Port Theatre Loses Decision

posted by paulaclark on May 12, 2004 at 6:28 am

PORT ST. JOE, FL — The Port Theatre lost a first round in a battle tonite. A neighboring property owner is applying for the right to build a second story (most of which already existed, though pirated in the 1970’s). At Monday night’s meeting, it was decided to approve the plans of the current owners of the building adjacent to the theater.

Historically, there is a ‘Party Wall’ agreement dated in the 1940s from when the owners of property beside the theater asked to tie in and use one of the theater walls. The agreement is a two page agreement, including things like not allowing a bowling alley to exist in the building they were erecting. The new owners wish to raise the level of the roof, which will block the manager’s apartment (our home!) windows somewhat (not greatly, but enough to notice daily, anytime one looks out).

A letter from the State of Florida did not effect the process of the Downtown Redevelopment Committee of Port St. Joe. According to the director/chairman of the committee, their job is to approve the architectural “look” of the building proposed only. The next step will be to go to the City manager, and the permit process begins.

We must now decide whether we fight tooth and nail or what our battle plan will be. I am grieved tonite. I know it isn’t the same as losing the whole building, but an attorney friend stated it could affect our historic status. I don’t know how it all works, but I know tomorrow begins the process of the City and the County deciding whether to approve/permit the addition.

The original party wall agreement allowed for “one story only”. We have obtained two legal opinions on the issue and we dread the thought of battle. The proposed addition will add somewhere between 7 inches and 24 inches in height on the neighboring roof. The manager’s apartment has windows that face out, at eye level, on the current (what’s left of it) roof of the building.

Ironically, the building became the “Video Merchant” at one point, but later closed/sold to an out-of-state buyer who intends to install four offices in the building.

Theaters in this post

Comments (1)

paulaclark on June 2, 2004 at 7:22 pm

Update: I was informed today that the permit process is completely and finally approved for the neighboring property to violate the party wall agreement, go up two or more feet, block our manager apartment windows somewhat, and place four A/C units on their new roof that will cover a second story (prohibited by private recorded agreement). Of course, we have the option to pursue legal routes to prevent this, which we are researching. It seems so pointless to me, though. I spent THREE years working hard to obtain the historic status on the building. Now, the City of Port St. Joe does not seem to honor that status, and simply makes decisions as if that status doesn’t exist. The State of Florida recommended against this addition to neighboring property, but could not prohibit it. I’ve been told our Party Wall Agreement will stand up in court. We are consulting with legal expert in real estate law.

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