Hope for St. Pete's historic Crislip Arcade

There's some good news on the preservation front:

The City Council has approved a proposal of Saint Pete Preservation Inc. to preserve some of the Crislip Arcade, one of three arcades left in the city.

From my earlier story on the nine most endangered buildings in St. Pete:

Over the decades, St. Pete has lost many of its early commercial arcades, or open-air shopping corridors. The Crislip Arcade — one of only three left in the city — may be next. The 82-year-old arcade was built during St. Pete's '20s boom, and like other arcades, is regarded as a precursor to pedestrian malls and modern shopping malls.

In 2006, 601 Central LLC bought the entire north side of the block and moved out several small retailers in order to build condos. Soon after, the housing market tanked and the block has sat empty since. But on May 1, the developer requested a demolition permit from the city, which is pending.

But due to the efforts of SPP, the developer now must follow some strict rules on how they go about demolishing the building, including:

  • No demolition permit will be issued until the developer has financing and has submitted their full development plans.
  • The final development will include a ground level arcade that replicates the original.
  • Preservation groups must be noticed before demolition so they can grab any historic tiles, blocks, etc.
  • A historical marker will be posted on the site.
  • An American Historic Building Survey must be completed that documents the history of the building, archives blueprints and photos.
  • The Crislip Arcade logo will be remain on the new building.

In an e-mail to supporters, SPP president Will Michaels points out that the application they filed helped halt the demolition process of the Crislip Arcade. He writes:

Saint Petersburg Preservation originally filed an application to landmark the Crislip.  We were advised by City staff that this was the only way to stop the imminent demolition of the building. Although demolition procedures had been initiated, the owners and buyers did not have the permitting or financing in place to actually begin

construction.  Too often in the past historic buildings have been demolished, only to leave a vacant lot in place for years to come.  While SPP has agreed to withdraw the landmark application, were it not for filing it the demolition would have proceeded and none of the ten points in the agreement would have happened.

And though SPP wishes the whole building could be saved, they're happy that some concessions were made. Plus, since a new demolition permit could take years to procure, perhaps there is hope that another investor will come in, buy the building and find a profitable re-use for it.

This good news comes after the owners of the First Baptist Church announced they would retain that downtown historical building's facade instead of demolishing the whole structure.

Maybe we're finally getting somewhere with preservation after all ...

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