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2 century-old Tampa buildings could be saved from demolition

Tampa’s Historic Preservation Commission ruled 520 N. Tampa St. meets the criteria for local historic landmark designation.
These two century-old buildings - 514 N. Tampa St. and 520 N. Tampa St. - might be saved from demolition.
These two century-old buildings - 514 N. Tampa St. and 520 N. Tampa St. - might be saved from demolition. [ Paul Guzzo ]
Published May 19

TAMPA — Demolition has temporarily been halted on a century-old downtown Tampa building, a move that could also save a neighboring building linked to Clara Barton.

The Kolter Group purchased 514 N. Tampa St. and the neighboring 520 N. Tampa St. in December with plans to raze the structures to make way for a 55-story condo tower, which would be the tallest on Florida’s west coast.

But on Tuesday, Tampa’s Historic Preservation Commission declared at their public meeting that 520 N. Tampa St. meets the criteria for local historic landmark designation, stopping demolition for now.

It is now up to Tampa City Council to decide whether they want to force historic designation upon the property owner. That would then enable them to rule against demolition.

The city rarely forces the status on a property owner. Typically, the owner requests it on their own.

The developer argues that the century old building is beyond repair.

Even a historic landmark can be razed if an owner successfully argues that saving it would cause economic hardship.

The economic hardship argument worked for the Lykes Bros. Inc. in 1992, when the city placed local historic landmark designations on their First National Bank and Tampa Gas Co. buildings on the northwest corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Franklin Street.

The Lykes Bros. challenged the decision in court, won and razed the structures.

Tarr Furniture Company and Tampa Tribune building on the 500 block of N. Tampa Street in the 1920s.
Tarr Furniture Company and Tampa Tribune building on the 500 block of N. Tampa Street in the 1920s. [ Courtesy of Hillsborough County Public Library ]

In 1912, the Tampa Tribune built 520 N. Tampa St. The five-story building was originally used by Tarr Furniture.

Dennis Fernandez, the city of Tampa’s architectural review and historic preservation manager, cited its architecture as a primary reason for deserving landmark status. It was designed by M. Leo Elliott, who also designed Old City Hall and the Cuban Club.

Ceasing demolition could halt the development, also saving 514 N. Tampa St.

That building was originally Hotel Arno and erected in 1895.

Hotel Arno on N. Tampa Street in 1900. The Tampa Tribune purchased it five years later.
Hotel Arno on N. Tampa Street in 1900. The Tampa Tribune purchased it five years later. [ Courtesy of Hillsborough County Public Library ]

Clara Barton was among those who stayed at the Hotel Arno, according to Times archives, doing so for at least one night during the time when her Red Cross used Tampa as a base for efforts in Cuba during the Spanish American War.

The Tampa Tribune purchased Hotel Arno in 1905 and converted it into its headquarters.

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Due to changes to its exterior over the years, 514 N. Tampa St. is not eligible for local historic landmark designation.

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