“Whatever legal options we have from a monetary perspective, let’s do it,” said ARC board member Luis Viera.
TAMPA, Fla. — City leaders in Tampa say they are determined to do everything in their power to save the historic Jackson House on Zack Street.
Built in 1901, the building was once a boarding house in the Central Avenue neighborhood of Tampa, providing accommodation for African Americans during the Jim Crow and segregation era.
Legendary musicians, politicians and civil rights leaders have visited the Jackson House, but it is now at risk of collapse. At one point, the problem was that there wasn’t enough money to keep it up.
But now the family foundation that owns the property says it’s not about funding but rather a dispute with neighboring landlords, which is preventing them from renovating the house.
“It really is a community treasure that not only tells the story of the people who stayed there, but also the story of segregation – and its location, I think, is really important,” said Bill Carlson, member of the Community Redevelopment Zones Board of Directors.
During segregation, the Jackson House hosted musicians like Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles and James Brown. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights figures have also visited the historic site.
But to restore the house to what it once was, city leaders were told the structure without a lot line needed a 14-foot easement on one side and a 36-foot easement on the other to meet building codes.
The Jackson House Foundation negotiated with the company which currently owns a parking lot around the house. So far they haven’t wanted to sell.
“We really need the bondage,” said Jackson House Foundation President Carolyn Collins. “It would pay us so much that we have to do to finish this building.”
“If we can’t get the property and they don’t want to move on the easement, what do we do now?” asked ARC board member Orlando Gudes.
ARC board members started tossing around terms such as eminent domain – seizing private land at market price for public purposes – but the board’s lawyer warned it presented challenges .
“Whatever legal options we have from a monetary standpoint, let’s do it,” said ARC board member Luis Viera.
USF researchers stabilized the interior of the Jackson House, digitally mapped it, and preserved historical artifacts.
Thursday’s presentation included early renderings of what may one day stand on the site, including a museum showcasing Tampa’s African-American culture along what was once a thriving Central Avenue.
“And shame on the people who continue to stand in the way,” said ARC board member Guido Maniscalco. “I don’t know what the hatred towards this house is. Let’s just reserve a bit of history that remains in this area.
ARC staff members have repeatedly urged board members to avoid discussing the hurdle of securing the surrounding land needed to move forward with the renovations, saying they had just resumed negotiations.
But should that latest effort fail, board members say they want plans and options ready to be considered when the board meets again in November.
The restoration is expected to cost just over $4 million.
The Jackson House Foundation says it has received approximately $3 million in commitments from public and private groups, including $1 million from the Vinik Family Foundation, $1.5 million from the state of Florida and another half million. of a Historic Preservation Grant from Hillsborough County.