Port St. Joe Allows Project to Proceed

posted by paulaclark on May 19, 2004 at 6:57 am

PORT ST. JOE, FL — Yesterday, the City of Port St. Joe decided to recommend that a building permit for the “reconstruction project” next door to the Port Theatre be issued.

In spite of legal counsel and abrogation laws in our favor, it was determined that if we wish to continue fighting this, it will have to become a civil matter in a court of law.

So, it looks like a permit will be issued in spite of a restrictive covenant on the books, a Party Wall Agreement, that expressly states that neighboring building can be one story only.

Sometimes it is frustrating to watch the battles faced by owners of historic buildings who are trying to retain any sense of historical integrity. In this case, the neighboring property has, on the books, “unfinished storage” in an upper loft. Now, with a reconstruction project, changing the pitch of the roof, walla! Poof! An attempt to get a legal second story.

I am thankful for the two people who showed up at the meeting on our behalf (besides our attorney) and for the one professional couple who wrote a very moving letter from another state, which the City of Port St. Joe must have simply ignored. This whole saga makes me realize that with real estate, research, research, research. Then work hard to preserve EARLY.

Also, the longer something goes on unnoticed, the easier it is to make it appear to be something it never was intended to be. Our attorney couldn’t believe the outcome! He felt there were grounds for the City to rule in favor of our theater building.

The next step is probably going to be a difficult one on our part, if we make the decision we probably should. There is legal precedent, and we are fairly likely to prevail, but at what cost, and what cost to who?

Theaters in this post

Comments (3)

paulaclark on May 20, 2004 at 7:56 pm

Update from owner of Port Theatre: We were informed today that the permit process could take some time yet, and we have a small chance of reprieve if the County Building Dept. can find anything that doesn’t meet code in the plans. If allowed to proceed, the Manager’s apartment will no longer have the view it has enjoyed out its windows since the late 1930’s, and a Party Wall Agreement, a restrictive covenant recorded in 1953, will be violated. This would not be the same defeat that a demolition of a theatre building would be, but in light of the fact that it goes against State of Florida recommendations to preserve the historic building, and in light of the fact that there ARE ordinances (City and County) that would indicate protection for the private owner of property (that has recorded restrictions to their deeds as agreed in the past by two parties)it seems that any ruling should be in favor of preservation. We have options available to us, but we were hoping that our three years of effort to be listed on the National Registry of Historic Places would actually help, would mean something to officials. In any case, I love this old building, and still hope someone will come along that wishes to restore it to a performance center. There is much that I wish I could say about this issue, but will refrain at this point in time…..:) If anyone wishes to write an official about this matter, I’d happily provide information. Thanks for listening, and to other theatre owners, good luck with any similar battles you may be facing in the preservation quest.

paulaclark on May 27, 2004 at 5:37 am

We spoke with the Building Department again yesterday at greater length, and at this point in time, a permit has not YET been requested by the City. Apparently plans are either slow to move through the process, or some of our concerns are being considered. Things remain in limbo.

paulaclark on June 8, 2004 at 7:16 am

Update: the permit was issued on Friday, June 4th. Although the owners are still researching their legal rights in this matter, their real estate broker has pointed out that in the long run, this could prove to be beneficial to a new owner, especially if the new owner had any plans of changing anything from the original.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment