St. Petersburg Times Online: News of southern Pinellas County
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
tampabay.com

printer version

Tour calls attention to hospital roof flaws

A planning board member complains to City Hall after noticing Mercy's crumbling roof during a walking tour.

By JON WILSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 4, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- The old Mercy Hospital building on 22nd Street S is a city-owned local landmark carrying official historic designation.

So it surprised and annoyed planning board chairman Virginia Littrell last week when she saw two crumbling sections of the building's roof, a dramatic flaw inspectors normally would push an owner to correct.

Littrell, who was on a neighborhood walking tour that included a state official, got on the phone to City Hall. Standing in front of the building at 1344 22nd St. S, she called four city departments and the mayor's office.

"This is ludicrous," said Littrell, who is a District 4 City Council candidate. "We've been dealing with this for two years."

It wasn't clear late last week what action Littrell's intercession might generate.

The roof is in such bad shape now that the best thing the city can do is work with groups interested in rehabilitating the building, said Bob Jeffrey, historic preservation manager.

The city bought the property in December 1997, three years after it was declared a historic site, and after trying unsuccessfully to get the previous owner, Asimeno Corp. of Clearwater, to improve it.

Now the original 5,400-square-foot structure, built in 1923 and sitting on 4.7 acres of land, is an element in 22nd Street's redevelopment plans, also in the works for several years.

Last week, the street got a close-up look two days in a row.

Wednesday, Mayor David Fischer and 22nd Street boosters gathered at 18th Avenue S to dedicate a sign identifying the neighborhood as the 22nd Street Business District.

"Hang in there. The soil has been tilled. I would expect in two or three years you will see the plants come up," Fischer told the boosters, using a gardening metaphor to describe the redevelopment process.

Across the street at Perkins Elementary Center for the Arts and International Studies, principal Bob Lister was host to a punch-and-cookies reception for the group. A student steel drum band played, its bell-like reverberation echoing through the sound of neighborhood traffic.

Thursday, 22nd Street boosters conducted a walking tour that included Florida Main Street director Laura Lee Fisher and Joan Jefferson, a consultant who is helping the 22nd Street Redevelopment Corp. put together an application for Main Street designation.

Main Street is a state program that offers help in reviving older urban business areas. The 22nd Street group was turned down on its first attempt last year, but is trying again this year.

Annette Howard, the redevelopment corporation's president, pointed out historic residential and retail buildings from the Mercy site south to Fifth Avenue.

Former City Council member Ernest Fillyau, who owns 22nd Street property near Ninth Avenue S was along. So was Melrose-Mercy/Pine Acres Neighborhood Association president Chrisshun Cox and city economic development coordinator Charles Ray.

Howard, who makes an avocation of keeping 22nd Street spruced up, has remained optimistic that the old historic African-American business thoroughfare will make a comeback. The sign dedication and the tour with Fischer were two more benchmarks, she said.

After the tour, Fischer suggested the group compress the area it wants designated for Main Street status. Instead of running from 18th to Fifth avenues S, Fischer suggested the strip go from the Mercy site on 13th Avenue to the old Manhattan Casino in the 600 block.

"That's where most of the historic, commercial buildings are," Fisher said.

As for the Mercy site and its roof problem, the city is whipsawed, said Jeffrey, the preservation manager.

It would cost $175,000 to start fixing the roof, which may be up to 40 years old, he said. The money spent on it would have to be respent when the building is rehabilitated for new occupants, he said.

Back to St. Petersburg area news
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
 
Special Links
Mary Jo Melone
Howard Troxler


From the Times
South Pinellas desks
  • Baker vs. Ford affirmed
  • You'll be missed, Mr. Bill
  • Close call in pool serves as warning
  • 'Plantation Inn' raises eyebrows
  • Winn-Dixie site is in Walgreens plan
  • Ireland remains in band's itinerary
  • Proposal: Dock pay for absences
  • Apology is needed in case of ticket 'fixing'
  • Pinellas Park lieutenant named acting captain
  • Some 'girl' moments with USF's new chief
  • What a lark: Tour downtown by 'Duck'
  • Tour calls attention to hospital roof flaws
  • Luxury complex planned downtown
  • Many faces of one man to fill the Palladium
  • Neighborhood briefs
  • Watch out for trucks that don't secure loads
  • Child care providers love their jobs, BUT ...
  • Spring festival pauses for Earnhardt memorial
  • Busing's last divide
  • City officials want to corral steakhouse's roadside cows
  • Death came, but he never waited for it
  • What's up on campus
  • Government calendar
  • Gulfport hopefuls cover many issues
  • Gulfport candidates suspicious after forum
  • Treasure Island approves downtown clock tower
  • Shaw shows his versatility at UNC-Asheville
  • Adamich, Batten renew rivalry in Gasparilla
  • Several competitors get on a roll in YABA

  •