Old Northeast eyes historic label

Published March 19, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - As the Old Northeast continues its real estate revival from a couple of decades ago, residents say, its success is threatening the very character that spurred it.

"This neighborhood is a real destination," said Cathy Martin, president of the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association. But, she said, the vintage homes that made it a destination are becoming targets for those who just want a pricey address and don't care about preserving the ambience.

"Some of the new buildings are not unattractive," she said, "and it's not that we don't like the new people. But there are a lot of historic structures here and we want to keep them."

In the past several years, HONNA has tracked demolition of homes for either new homes or, especially nearer downtown, for townhome complexes. While the neighborhood still has a lot of historic buildings, its members want to establish rules to keep as many as possible.

"It's sort of like a nice smile," said Bob Jeffrey, St. Petersburg's assistant director for development services. "The more teeth it's missing, the stranger it looks."

Jeffrey is working with HONNA to establish a local historic district there on top of the more honorary national historic designation it already has. The local district would couple significant tax benefits for those restoring older homes with limits on those who would rather raze and replace them. The district would be one of the largest in the state, covering 5th-30th avenues N and 4th Street east to Tampa Bay, but that makes establishing the designation harder because neighbors must show two-thirds or greater support.

"The temptation is so great," said Robin Reed, HONNA's historic preservation chair, of the urge to rebuild rather than renovate. "People are definitely making an economic decision."

In addition to townhomes, Reed points to a proposal to remove an older home adjacent to the old St. Pete Hardware on 4th Street to make room for retail parking. Likewise, she said, there are plans to redevelop a gas station at 4th Street and 22nd Avenue N and history could be lost there. The interior of the neighborhood also sees teardowns, including in Grenada Terrace, a small historic district within Old Northeast.

HONNA is gathering petitions to create the historic district and will discuss the issue at its meeting at 7 p.m Monday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 126 11th Ave. NE. Jeffrey said it's important the neighborhood establish the district soon.

"There is going to be a huge implosion of families coming back into the city," he said, because suburban land and commuting costs are rising. He said without the historic district, the area will steadily change to just another neighborhood. "Eventually, you're going to look around and not be able to see you're in Old Northeast."


The city of St. Petersburg will be holding informational meetings about its Neighborhood Partnership Matching Grant program. The workshops, at the City Hall Annex at 440 2nd Ave. N, are designed to answer questions and assist neighborhood groups in preparation of grant applications. The meeting schedule is Wednesday, Mar. 28 and 30 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and July 25 at 6 p.m. Each workshop gains applicants extra points in grant evaluations.

The Northeast Park Neighborhood Association will hold its next meeting at 7p.m. Monday at the Masonic Home, 3201 1st St. NE. The speaker will be Chief Chuck Harmon of the St. Petersburg Police Department. Topics also will include the neighborhood picnic to be held April 29 at Crisp Park.

The Jungle Terrace Civic Association's next meeting is 6:45 p.m. Monday at Walter Fuller Youth Center, 7891 26th Ave. N. On the agenda is Lita Sargent of Tyrone Square Mall regarding a proposed movie theater project.

The Holiday Park Neighborhood Association will hold its next meeting at 7:30 Monday at Garden of Peace Lutheran Church, 6161 22nd Ave. N. The program will feature a speaker from Metro Crime Prevention.

The Historic Park Street Neighborhood Association will hold its next meeting Tuesday at the Deseta Chapel off 5th Avenue N at Admiral Farragut Academy. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. and a main topic will be crime.

Lakewood Estates Neighborhood Watch meeting will be 7 p.m.Tuesday at St. Petersburg Country Club, 2000 Country Club Way S. A speaker from Gulfcoast Legal Services will describe the pitfalls of preparing and using a living will.

Bayou Highlands Neighborhood Association will hold an unusual outdoor meeting Thursday in the median of Lake Maggiore Boulevard at 6th Street S to discuss traffic issues in the neighborhood. The meeting, starting at 6:30 p.m., also will cover the neighborhood's plans for its Fun Day.

City Council member Jamie Bennett will discuss the mooring project in Big Bayou at the March 28 meeting of the Coquina Key Neighborhood Association. The meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. at the clubhouse, 3850 Pompano Drive SE.

Snell Isle Property Owners Association will hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. April 6 at the Woman's Club, 40 Snell Isle Blvd. NE. The St. Petersburg Police Department will present a program on Crime Prevention.

The Jungle Terrace Civic Association will hold an Easter Egg hunt at 10 a.m. April 15 at Walter Fuller Park, 7891 26th Ave. N. Children 9 years old and younger are admitted free. For information, call 343-2041.

Readers wishing to submit information for the Neighborhood Notebook can contact Times staff writer Paul Swider either by e-mail at pswider@sptimes.com or by phone at 892-2271. Neighborhood association presidents who would like to publish their organization's information directly to the Web on their own itsyourtimes.com blog also should contact Paul Swider at pswider@sptimes.com