Tampa’s buildings, more than 100 years old, could be razed
The last Tampa Tribune house, on Parker Street, was razed and replaced with apartments a few years ago after the newspaper was purchased by the Tampa Bay Times in 2016.
Today, one of his first homes – which is also linked to Clara Barton – as well as another century-old building linked to the newspaper could have similar fates.
The Kolter Group purchased 514 N. Tampa St. and neighboring 520 N. Tampa St. last month.
The Times was unable to reach the Kolter Group by email or phone. But, according to a Tampa Bay Business Journal article that Kolter Group posted on its website, they plan to demolish the structures and erect up to 200 condos.
Current tenants, such as First Watch, will remain open for most of this year. Construction would start in 2023.
Dennis Fernandez, responsible for the architectural review and historic preservation for the city of Tampa, said that “neither the city nor my division has received a request for demonstration yet” for these buildings.
Neither is designated as a local historical landmark. But, under the city’s statute, permission to demolish any building 50 years or older requires an OK from the Historic Preservation Commission.
Once demolition is requested, the commission will hold a public hearing. Residents can then request that the buildings be designated as local monuments. This could protect them from being shaved.
The commission can recommend that the city council act on the request if it considers that the buildings meet the local designation criteria.
Yet historic curator Del Acosta recently told The Times he had no recollection of the city ever forcing a historic designation on an owner.
Typically, an owner applies for historic monument status.
Part of the history of 514 N. Tampa St. is painted on the side of the brick building.
“Tampa Morning Tribune,” reads what historians call a ghost sign, defined as faded, hand-painted advertisements on a building that promote a business or organization that no longer exists.
Rodney Kite-Powell of the Tampa Bay History Center said the building was originally the Arno Hotel and was erected in 1895, the same year the Tampa Tribune was established.
He “is one of the oldest still standing in downtown Tampa,” he said. “There are a handful of others, but not many, and few have demolition protection.”
Clara Barton was among those who stayed at the Arno Hotel, according to Times records, for at least one night when her Red Cross was using Tampa as a base for its efforts in Cuba during the Spanish American War. .
The Tampa Tribune bought the Arno Hotel in 1905 and converted it into its headquarters, Kite-Powell said.
The Tribune stayed there until 1924, according to city directories, then moved one block to 602 N. Tampa St.
Prior to this decision, Tribune bosses were considering making 520 N. Tampa St. their new home.
This four-story structure was erected in 1912 by the Tribune for another firm and was designed by Bonfoey and Elliott, the architectural firm behind the Old Town Hall and the Centro Asturiano building.
“Two bright, attractive-looking, aristocratic-looking young men bursting with enthusiasm, influence, wealth and energy persuaded the management of The Tribune to construct a new building for them to be occupied by their “Tarr furniture business, the Tribune reported in 1912.
âThe building will be the main structure of Tampa Street, both in size and appearance,â the Tribune reported. “It is artistically designed, of Roman binding brick, topped with Georgian marble and terracotta.”
Newspapers across Florida and beyond hailed it as an architectural achievement.
“One of Tampa’s greatest assets,” wrote the Pensacola Journal.
“Another illustration of the prosperity of Tampa and Florida,” Macon Telegraph reported.
“The most modern in Florida,” said the Nashville Democrat.
It was so popular that the Tribune thought about renting it from the furniture store.
“Shortly after signing the lease, they regretted it and wanted to keep it for their own benefit to move the paper operations there,” said Chip Weiner, whose book “Burgert Brothers: Another Look” pits the old and modern Tampa through photographs.
None of the Tampa Street buildings are featured in this book, but will be featured in the follow-up, he said.
The Tribune honored the lease but said they would move into the building when Tarr’s contract ended.
They never did.
âThis was later the site of a short-lived bingo hall,â Weiner said. âSo the Haverty furniture. “