“I hope any of you who have expressed an interest in “what’s happening!!! ” to my neighborhood Laurel Park will read this. It’s a thumbnail tale but it’s a beginning to the story of the end of something precious. 10 years ago I pursued a legal remedy to what is now occurring in our neighborhood ,,, I was damned as a destroyer because I believed the code then and now in place in Laurel Park in no way reflects the historic character of our neighborhood. The issue is not housing types ( modern vs craftsman vs dutch colonial vs med rev ) but about no diversity in lot size*, no possibility of multi-family like the Spanish Oaks, or bed & breakfasts, or artist studios, > adaptive reuse of historic structures. Next to Dylan Jon Wade Cox fine example of “shotgun vernacular” stand two 500 ft square ” workers ” cottages ( circa 1924 ) Mine is one of them. Built on 3000 square feet it includes a shared garage … a feature of several Owen Burns built homes ( circa 1924 ) on Madison and Columbia Court. A feature that would not be allowed today. Nor could one build on 3000 square feet. The large new built on the corner and the one across from mine are required by code to be built on a suburban lot size of just under 5000 square feet. They are 1,000,000 dollar ( + ) single family homes. The folks now who are running and /or supporting STOP are the very same people who have praised these developments, sat on their hands and allowed this to occur in Laurel Park. STOP’s president and registered agent lives in the neighborhood and has served numerous times on our Board. This is the same Board that led the charge against another important historic structure, the original Sarasota Herald Tribune home to the Women’s Exchange and most egregiously refused to give support to saving the now demolished 7 Gables and in fact actively contributed to it’s demise. At what point will Laurel Park’s National Historic Designation be rescinded?”
With regard to the impact of new construction on a National Register District:
The number and scale must not overwhelm a district’s sense of time and place and historical development.
When the State of Florida nominated Laurel Park for National Register District designation the number of contributing structures was just barely enough. The boundaries of the district had to be creatively drawn to exclude some large land parcels and new buildings to make it work. In addition, to boost the number of contributing buildings, the Womens Exchange and two commercial buildings across from the Exchange were added by the State of Florida’ s preservationist.
In recent years there have been enough demolitions of contributing structures along with the addition of new homes built on vacant sites without regard for their scale to jeopardize this honorific designation.
Here’s hoping the Laurel Park neighborhood’s organized homeowner association board will wake up!