ST. PETERSBURG — Preserve the 'Burg, the group whose mission is "to keep St. Pete special," lost a fight recently. The Community Planning and Preservation Commission turned down a request to designate the Holiday Motel a local historic landmark.
The motel with colorful rainbow-hued doors on Fourth Street between 24th and 25th avenues N, is slated for demolition. A retail project by Pennsylvania–headquartered Armstrong Development Properties is being planned to take its place.
Some speakers excoriated Preserve the 'Burg's efforts to save the structure.
"They are the bullies of the neighborhood," said Arnie Cummings, who has fought his own battle with the group and his neighbors. His house is in a new historic district on 18th Avenue NE made up of just 10 homes. He and another neighbor say the district was formed to thwart their home building plans.
Ramnarace Jagdeo, who owns the Holiday Motel with his wife, Marva, told the commission that the building is in disrepair and that designating it historic would be a financial hardship. The couple is planning to sell the property and retire, Jagdeo said. Peter Belmont, vice president of Preserve the 'Burg, said the group had been in talks to save the structure, which is actually three buildings, for artists' studios in the Warehouse Arts District or for affordable housing elsewhere.