Moving Target

The Historic McAlpin Home Must Be Moved or Demolished—With a Condition

City of Sarasota commissioners finally decided on the fate of the historically designated 112-year-old home at yesterday's meeting.

By Kim Doleatto May 7, 2024

The McAlpin home is 112 years old.

Image: Brian Jones

The future of a slice of Sarasota’s history is certain now after a three-and-a-half hour discussion at yesterday's city commission meeting. 

Well, sort of.

The McAlpin Home is part of the roughly 3-acre, $32 million parcel that was purchased by developer Orange Pineapple LLC, which has plans to redevelop the property. Built in 1912, the home was once the residence of George McAlpin, known for his concrete work throughout Laurel Park and the bayfront before the City of Sarasota was incorporated.

In July, the City of Sarasota's Historic Preservation Board voted to deny the demolition of the McAlpin House. Orange Pineapple LLC appealed the denial, but city commissioners tabled the topic in October last year—then continued it after another meeting last month.

Yesterday, commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the demolition of the McAlpin Home, which is located at 1530 Cross St., near Burns Court in downtown Sarasota—but not until site plan approval has been obtained from the city. Additionally, the city will also allow the structure to be moved to anyone willing to take it. Orange Pineapple LLC must pay $200,000 toward the moving costs. 

If the home is demolished, Orange Pineapple LLC must pay that $200,000 to the City of Sarasota for historic preservation purposes. The structure's rusticated blocks—its most significant historic design element—are to be incorporated into the new site plan.

At roughly 1,200 square feet, the McAlpin encompasses roughly 5 percent of the whole downtown parcel. Commissioner Debbie Trice and vice mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch dissented. A handful of public speakers also spoke out against demolition.

Trice said she wanted to see more incentive to move the structure, adding that Historical Society of Sarasota County, which may receive the home near its headquarters at Pioneer Park, urged her to vote against demolition. She said that the $200,000 cost is "peanuts" for the developer.

"I suspect the applicant would not be working so hard for the demolition if they weren't benefiting by considerably more than $200,000 by removing the house," she said.

Ahearn-Koch was concerned about the cost of moving the historic home superseding $200,000 and how those potential extra costs might be mitigated. For example, the recent move of the historic Leonard Reid House cost $443,000. Concerns surrounding how the home’s future maintenance was funded were also raised.

Ahearn-Koch also said that the best option would have been to continue the discussion at another meeting. "The applicant purchased [the parcel] knowing [all of this]. It's not the city's problem or Historical Society's to solve. It's the developer's issue—[they knew] full well this could be the outcome." 

Everyone agreed, however, that the developer had done its due diligence in seeking to find the McAlpin Home a new address. The cost of maintaining it through the future, however, was another puzzle to solve.

"The applicant has asked the city to vacate Cross Street—a huge amount of land. This home is just 40-by-40 square feet," said Dr. Clifford Smith, senior planner with the City of Sarasota. "The Historical Society of Sarasota County said it would be willing to receive the McAlpin Home. But it needs some kind of endowment."

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