Saturday, March 4, 2017

616 Eaton Street

I would never have believed it possible but the Key West Citizen is reporting that plans to convert an old mansion on Eaton Street into a 6700 square foot modern palace have been pushed back by sheer force of protest. This is how the property looked for the longest time before it was sold for $1.8 million according to the newspaper:
The old owners were apparently horrified when the new owners suddenly submitted plans not only for the restoration of the mansion which has been completed as  shown below, but also to turn the large city lot into a vast "family compound" in a modern style. How they got the city's Historic Architecture Review Commission to approve the carbuncle needs to be investigated, as do several other HARC bungles but in the event neighbors did what city officials could not do and they stopped it dead.
It seems the new owners have given up and are selling the restored building and lot back to the original owners and all will return to normal on this part of Eaton Street. Luckily I suppose the house is being traded between people with enough money to bandy the cash around at will. Below I have included an illustration published last year in the Citizen showing the plans for the giant compound to be built in the back over the protests of the neighbors:

I should never have believed their success in stopping this awful plan could have been possible but protest does work apparently even in Key West. This is the town where the dice sometimes seems loaded against good taste and common sense. Why the city hasn't hired a new commission of people to oversee preservation of Old Town Key West I don't know. I think the largest historic wooden home neighborhood in the US deserves better protectors than the bozos currently occupying that position. There are enough ugly glass and cement buildings springing up around Old Town to prove my point. This hatchet job was prevented by good citizen neighbors not HARC.


SonjaM said...

It seems that the members of HARC must have been in some way susceptible to certain means of persuasiveness. Otherwise the construction plans would have not gotten approved or would they? How wonderful that protests have helped to conserve this part of the neighbourhood.

Steve Williams said...

Here in this part of central Pennsylvania we see a constant battle between residents and developers as they wrestle with decisions like the one you highlight. For us, it's usually a farmer who is retiring and has no children to pass the farm on. They see their long investment in the land as their pension and they tend to bristle at the community who wants to prevent them from selling to a developer for $4 million and instead try to sell it as a farm with restrictions on development for $1 million. They wonder why they're being punished for holding out selling the longest and providing the community with that open space for so long while the protesters live in the homes and apartments built on land that other farmers sold earlier.

It's not an easy question to deal with. Some suggest if the community wants to keep open space they should pay for it. But the development rights, or the land outright. Sadly, people just want what they want and don't always want to pay for it. More and more though the community is doing that through private fundraising, partnerships with various groups, or even persuading elected officials to fund purchases.

Key West would have some obvious questions for HARC. But probably like things are everywhere -- money talks.

CJ said...

Glad to see this outcome.

Danette Baltzer said...

So happy to hear that they weren't able to go ahead with the development of that property. I am completely baffled about how it is that Business people manage to keep their positions of power.

Anonymous said...

Message to the locals - FINE JOB!!