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Sweet deal for Honey House

The historic Honey House will be saved after all.

The yellow Victorian, for decades a picturesque part of downtown but now crowded by a hulking mass of concrete, will be moved to a lot a block away, then restored.

Dunedin Station Development, which bought the house and adjoining property years ago as a site for a retail project, announced at Thursday's City Commission meeting that it has drafted a contract with downtown resident Sherry Lee Cook, who agreed to move the house to her property, 419 Scotland St.

To make that happen, Dunedin Station will donate the house to the city, as well as $7,000 for moving expenses. Then Cook will take over the house and use Dunedin Station's money to help with moving costs, which could reach $130,000, said lawyer Michael Boutzoukas, who represents Dunedin Station.

The two-step process will allow Paul Bakkalapulo and George Karalis, owners of the failed Dunedin Station project, to take a tax deduction for giving the house to the city, Boutzoukas said.

The quaint two-story house with a large veranda has been seen by many as a sad victim of downtown renewal efforts ever since Dunedin Station started building its project, which attaches to the Honey House and has been called ugly by city leaders.

On Thursday night, a relieved Mayor Bob Hackworth said the transaction from the developer to the city to Cook is "the best Christmas gift we could get." Fellow commissioners agreed.

Cook told commissioners she plans to restore the house to its original condition, using her background in construction and interior design. Last year, she renovated a 1919 vintage home, 1106 Douglas Ave.

Cook and Dunedin Station have to sign the contract to seal the deal, Boutzoukas said. They are waiting for a 45-day period to pass in which Cook will evaluate whether she can afford to move and renovate the Honey House. Cook said she is confident that the contract will be finalized.

The commission will hear more details at a meeting Dec. 21. Cook said she might need 180 days to arrange the move.

As for the ugly concrete box, it will be leveled by Dunedin Station and the debris carted away. Dunedin Station then plans to try another project there - exactly what, the company isn't not sure.

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