Historic Board rules Palm Avenue home as not historic

January 8, 2016
By Marcy Shortuse

920 Palm1
BY SUE ERWIN – The Boca Grande Historic Preservation Board held a public meeting on Wednesday. More than 40 residents attended.
A request to expand an approved rehabilitation of 920 Palm Avenue was discussed.
Property owner Holly Cowan expressed to the Board her regrets regarding several mistakes made by contractors during the rehabilitation process.
“This was not planned to be a demolition of the entire house,” she said. “We expected renovating this house would be a challenge, but our priority was to preserve the distinctive historical character. We bought 920 Palm because of its historical beauty.”
Cowan added that the house was unique in its design because it had been added to over the years, and it meandered in an unpredictable way, leading to a surprisingly private back yard.
Chairman Tim Seibert questioned if the home should still be considered a historical site, due to the vast amount of work that has been done on it.
Attorney Steven Hartsell answered that the building is consistent with the plans approved in 2014.
“There was no option but to reconstruct [rather than renovate]. It simply could not be done,” Hartsell said.
An overwhelming amount of attendees waited patiently to share their supportive words.
Resident Richard Coin lives a block away and addressed the Board about the property.
“It would be mean-spirited of the Board to not approve this – I believe it is still a historical property,” Coin said.
Resident Beth Currier also spoke in favor of the property.
“I am strongly in support of ruling this house as a historical property,” she said.
Board members discussed that while they could appreciate the support of the members of the community, they still had a duty to fulfill.
A motion was made by a Board member to amend the certificate by the applicant, but then it was withdrawn.
Board members voted against the proposal, five to two.
The other two items on the agenda, a request rehab 1110 11th Street and a request to construct a new Beach Club facility at the Gasparilla Inn Beach Club, were both voted to be continued, respectively.
For more information on the Historic Board guidelines, visit the Lee County Government website at leegov.com.