Tampa City Council may aid push to save historical Jackson House
Tampa city administrators are planning to demolish a dilapidated home that used to house such African-American icons as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a host of famous singers. But as During a meeting Thursday city council members seemed poised to ask staff to hold off on demolition.
Former Tampa City Council member-turned community activist Linda Saul-Sena wants to convene a group the Jackson House Foundation to save the sole remaining building on what was once the bustling Central Avenue. But city legal staff sent a letter to the buildings owner giving him until next Saturday to make safety improvements or else the city would start the process of bringing out the wrecking ball. Saul-Sena is asking the city to give them an extra 60 days.
Its a very hectic time of year, you all have noticed, its Thanksgiving, its the holidays, but we are putting this deal together with interested people who want to save this critical piece of Tampas history. I know that this is an administrative issue and not specifically a council issue, but you all have spoken openly about how much you value this historic property and what it means to Tampas history.
If you look at it, the only straight thing on it is the ground. The rest of the house is leaning one way or the other.
Thats council chair, Charlie Miranda. The home is in disarray. To keep the city at bay, the owner would have to secure liability insurance and sign an agreement freeing the city from responsibility if someone were to get hurt on the property. Hed also have to fence the property and come up with a plan to stabilize the structure. Saul-Sena says a fence has already been put up and a team is working on stabilization plans that will cost about $50,000. City Council member Frank Reddick made a motion for city staff to reach out to the owner about plans, but still worries there isnt anything concrete enough to justify an extension on the deadline.
All Ive been hearing is that youve got all these people out here the engineers and all these people saying they want to work, they want to do this no one has stepped forward, no one has put one dollar in the bank. Youre asking this person to secure his home by giving it to a non-profit organization that is the small portion. Maam, it is going to take more money to restore it.
Reddicks motion to initiate a conversation with the Jackson House owner was approved unanimously, but no other action could be taken because Willie Robinson Jr. wasnt at the meeting. Saul-Sena, the woman leading a push to save the century-old home, told city council Robinson intends to turn the home over to a non-profit to save it.
This ad hoc committee that you are aware of because a number of elected officials are sending representatives, has been meeting and our last Friday meeting it sounded like things were gung ho and then Mr. Robinson the project is a big project. Its perhaps too much for an individual, but its something that the community under a Jackson House foundation can support and I think that what you referred to Ms. Capin about the fundraising on the radio this morning, thats just the tip of the iceberg. Ive really gotten a number of inquiries both large and small.
City Council member Yolie Capin had defended the house in earlier discussion.
From what I understand, there was a push by a radio station and raised this morning, I think something like $20,000 and donations from landscapers and its taken on a life of its own.
She doesnt see why the city should be in such a hurry to knock down such a historical building.
Were putting up monuments at Encore, but yet we have this house and really, the city cannot have a clear conscience when it comes to this house. I am sorry, but that is the truth. Its African-American origin, but it is American history. Its our history. Its Tampa history and that we allowed that house to deteriorate
Even though city council wasnt able to do much to save the Jackson House Thursday, city attorney Julia Mandell says shes willing to work with groups. Mandell was the one who sent a letter to Robinson informing him of the looming demolition deadline for the end of this month.
If what I hear is going to occur is that there is going to be a change in ownership and theres going to be some proposal to the city as to how this property is going to be stabilized in order to lift that, well work with anybody in that process. Given the fact that the demolition order process hasnt even started, it would be appropriate.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has also been calling on the home to be demolished. He suggested salvaging parts of the home to be included in an African-American history museum the city hopes to build as part of a development in the area that used to be home to segregated black families.comments powered by Disqus