Help Us Save McClellan Park!
On February 9, 2021, the City’s Historic Preservation Board voted UNANIMOUSLY to deny the demolition application for 1701 Hashay Drive, Sarasota.
This decision is being appealed to the Sarasota City Commission. The appeal will be heard on Monday April 6, 2021 after 6:00 p.m. Members of the public are invited to speak at this hearing. Here are some reasons this home should not be demolished.
This 1937 home in McClellan Park was designed by Ralph Twitchell, the founding architect of the Sarasota School of Architecture. His work put Sarasota on the mid-century modern architectural map and is a huge draw for cultural tourists every year. His buildings have been featured many times during Sarasota Mod Weekend sponsored by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation which draws thousands of people to Sarasota each November.
The HPB felt that the property was not appropriate for demolition, in part because it is in great condition, but also because of the significance of Twitchell’s early work in telling the story of Sarasota. They also shared concern that the character and scale of McClellan Park is at risk and the loss of this structure would be felt by the wider community.
It was entirely within the Board’s right to deny the application, even though it contradicted City Staff’s recommendation. Indeed this is why Hashay was referred to the Board in the first place--since the two criteria for an administrative waiver were not met:
● A letter from a structural engineer attesting to irreversible degradation
● A determination by City staff that it has been severely altered and thus is no longer a significant property eligible for designation), Dr. Smith was required by code to present the request to the board of experts to advise on the matter.
It was well within the rights of the property owner to appeal the decision to the City Commission. And it is also imperative that the City Commission understands that the HPB, as the recognized subject matter experts in an advisory capacity, have made a determination based on all of the facts.
Due to the rapid development that has gripped our County, our communities are permanently, fundamentally changed. Once a historic building is lost, it is gone forever. Also gone is the human scale of the neighborhood, affordability is compromised, and the cultural memory of Sarasota vanishes. Our built environment serves as the physical reminder of what this place is, who we were and what we valued.
It is important to understand that this is not a property rights issue. There is no guarantee provided when you purchase a home that you can do whatever you want with it. There are rules we must follow for the safety and well being of all. If a new homeowner wanted to turn their house into a liquor store or marijuana farm, it is doubtful that there would be the same outcries about property rights. In that example, yes the change would hurt the surrounding neighborhood.
The same is true for the demolition of homes that contribute to the unique sense of a neighborhood's place in terms of its scale design and condition, to be replaced with a new building that often is outsized and presents an inconsistent style. Though this happens incrementally, it has the cumulative effect of degrading the very character that often draws people the neighborhood in question.
The more that inappropriate new construction becomes the standard in a neighborhood, the value of older properties will start to decline.
"There was a time when historic preservation was about saving an old building here or there…but those days are gone. Preservation is about saving communities and the values they embody” Richard, Moe, National Trust for Historic Preservation