Advertisement
  1. News

Preservations file lawsuit to prevent demolition of Pheil Hotel, National Bank buildings

Officials in St. Petersburg have okayed a plan to raze two buildings. A group wants them preserved and designated historic.
Published Apr. 15, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — Preservationists have opened a new front in their fight to prevent demolition of two historic downtown buildings.

The group St. Petersburg Preservation has filed a lawsuit in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court seeking to overturn a city decision to allow the owners of the early 20th century Pheil Hotel and Theater and Central National Bank to raze the buildings. They sit on the block that stretches from Central Avenue to First Avenue S and Fourth Street to Fifth Street.

The property is owned by the Pheil family, descendants of Abram C. Pheil — the city's mayor in 1912 — and First States Investors, a real estate investment trust. The block is slated for redevelopment.

Despite an appeal from the preservation group, the city's Development Review Commission granted the demolition request based on an exemption to city codes.

Regulations require that demolition cannot be approved in the downtown district without an approved site plan and a complete building permit application.

"We think that the city made an incorrect decision and one that is not beneficial to the city and we're asking the court to review that," said Peter Belmont, vice president of St. Petersburg Preservation. "Our purpose is to prevent demolition until there's a plan for what the future will bring to that block. … We also know that there are developers who are interested in reusing those buildings."

Don Mastry, the lawyer representing First States, called the suit "an outrageous step" that has no merit.

"The choice facing St. Petersburg is whether to allow this block to get a fresh start, or whether to keep this vacant eyesore for 42 more years," he said, referring to the complicated, long-term lease that until recently had prevented an agreement between the two owners.

"There is no path that leads to restoration of the property which has been on the market already for 10 years," Mastry said.

St. Petersburg Preservation has also filed an application asking that the buildings be designated historic.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Nicole Kristine Gaskins, 45, died Monday in a single-car crash on I-275. The Wesley Chapel woman was a mother of two. Jeanne Eror
    Nicole Kristine Gaskins, 45, died Monday when her car drifted off of Interstate 275 and crashed.
  2. FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2017, file photo, death row inmate Rodney Reed waves to his family in the Bastrop County District Court in Bastrop,  Reed is facing lethal injection for a murder he says he didn't commit. The execution was called into question by lawmakers, pastors, celebrities and the European Union. RICARDO BRAZZIELL  |  AP
    The 51-year-old had been set for lethal injection Wednesday evening for the 1996 killing of 19-year-old Stacey Stites.
  3. Discussing sex education on Nov. 15 in Tampa are Christian conservative Terry Kemple, university health services coordinator Linsey Grove, Planned Parenthood outreach educator Paola Ferst and Hillsborough schools physical education and health supervisor Ashlee Cappucci. Not shown: County PTA Council President Damaris Allen. MARLENE SOKOL
    Lessons seek to strengthen students’ communication skills so they can make informed decisions.
  4. Henry "Shake" Washington is running for Hillsborough County School Board for the second time since 2018.
  5. Forensic Science investigators with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office collect evidence at the scene of the shooting behind the Walmart Neighborhood Market, 6900 US Hwy 19 N, in Pinellas Park, on Friday, November 15, 2019. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The victim was a Walmart employee. He was on break at the time of the shooting.
  6. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.
  7. Jeremy Guerrero, 31, was arrested on charges of DUI manslaughter and driving with a license suspended or revoked involving death, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. He's accused of being impaired by methamphetamines when troopers said he caused a crash on Interstate 75 that killed a woman early Friday. Florida Highway Patrol
    The 31-year-old driver faces a charge of DUI manslaughter after causing the crash that killed a 57-year-old woman, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
  8. The $3 billion Water Street project is slated to be complete by 2026 or 2027. How affordable will it be? SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A project executive ticked off many ways the $3 billion project will alter Tampa, but a Cafe con Tampa audience wanted details on what it will cost to live there
  9. A total of 131 employees are scheduled to be laid off in January as Locale Market and Farm Table Cucina close at the Sundial to make way for a new food hall created by the developers of the Heights Public Market at the Armature Works in Tampa. CHRIS URSO   |   TIMES
    In a notice to the state of Florida, Sundial owner Bill Edwards said the layoffs are expected to take place the first week of January.
  10. Investigators say Traci Hudson stole more than $500,000 from a man she had guardianship over.
    Traci Hudson, 51, spent the money on personal purchases ranging from utilities to jewelry to Tampa Bay Buccaneers tickets.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement