TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A developer has plans to build the tallest skyscraper on Florida’s west coast downtown, but the city’s Historic Preservation Commission halted the necessary demolition to make way for the 55-story condo building.
South Florida developer Kolter Urban LLC purchased the former Tarr Furniture Company Building at 520 Tampa Street and a neighboring property for nearly $12 million last year.
During Tuesday’s commission meeting, the developers argued the more than a century-old building is beyond repair.
“There’s very little value in the property to the city or to anyone at this point,” development executive Steve Barber told the commission. “Quite honestly from Curtis Hixon Park, the west elevation of the building is an eyesore.”
While it is not designated right now, the city’s Architectural Review and Historic Preservation Manager Dennis Fernandez said the building meets the criteria to be preserved as a historical landmark.
“Irreparable harm will be done to the building if a demolition for the building is issued,” commissioner member Dr. Thomas Pluckhahn said.
The commission voted in favor of the City Council taking emergency action to halt the demolition permit.
That is a welcome development for the staff at the First Watch breakfast and lunch restaurant located on the first floor.
“I feel like we have so many condos already,” server Anna Bartolazzi said. “Make it somewhere else. Don’t tear down this historical building and my job.”
Customer Carla Gormon said she’d rather see renovations to the building instead of the developer’s plans to tear it down.
“They could put great condos in this building,” she said. “They’re beautiful, the big windows.”
The proposed project would not help address the city’s housing affordability crisis. The developer said the condos would be sold for an average of $1.35 million.
“Historic preservation is very important to Mayor Castor, but there is a process here that should run its course,” City Spokesperson Adam Smith told News Channel 8.