That classic little cottage lives on

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Structure at Beach Access 7 will receive historic designation, thanks to narrow vote by Sarasota County commissioners

By ChrisAnn Allen

It has weathered storms for more than 90 years.
And during an Oct. 24 Sarasota County commission meeting it weathered another one, so to speak, as the board narrowly voted 3-2 to add the Curione Beach Cottage, 5404 Calle De La Siesta, to the Sarasota County Register of Historical Places.
District 1 Commissioner Mike Moran and District 3 Commissioner Neil Rainford cast the dissenting votes.
Josh Goodman, manager of the Sarasota County Division of Historical Resources, led a presentation at the meeting, explaining the county adopted its historic preservation ordinance in 1997 to “provide public and private landowners with tools and incentives for identifying and preserving historic structures around the county.”

Other examples of properties on the register include the Phillippi Estate Park, the Sarasota Terrace Hotel, and the Hermitage-Whitney Historic District on Manasota Key.
In March, the historic preservation board unanimously recommended that the county-owned cottage, built circa 1932 in the Craftsman bungalow style, should be added to the registry as it “maintains a high degree of history and physical integrity,” Goodman said, noting it has seen minimal renovations.
He added, “It is significant as it is associated with the pre-World War II development of Siesta Key, specifically, the Crescent Beach area, and is a rare surviving example of typical structures built on barrier islands between the mid-1920s and 1945.”
The cottage is located near Beach Access 7, is used as a small county office and meeting space, and is flanked by beach access parking.
“To me, this wants to be parking,” Rainford said. “It’s not the Ca’ d’Zan, not The Ringling, this is not the Phillippi mansion.”
He said preserving a nonconforming house in a flood zone goes against resiliency efforts. “We have some amazing historic buildings here, but this one, I am totally against.”

County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler, said it appears there is work that could be done on the site to increase parking without removing the cottage.
District 2 Commissioner Mark Smith, whose district includes the property, asked Rissler if granting the designation would allow the county to avoid the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 50% rule, which prohibits improvements to a structure exceeding 50% of its market value unless the entire structure is brought into compliance with current flood regulations, including elevation. She said the designation would eliminate the stipulations of the 50% rule.

Smith

Smith said they would be able to install much-needed public restrooms by avoiding the 50% rule and motioned for the cottage to receive the historic designation.
“We’d be able to adapt it much easier because we don’t have the 50% rule to deal with,” he said. “And if we could get a toilet room, it’d be great.”
Currently, there are no public restroom facilities near any of the Siesta Key beach accesses.
“This thing is an anomaly. Of all the storms we’ve had, it is still sitting there,” Smith said. “So, if you believe in destiny, we need to save this. But if it gets wiped out, it gets wiped out.”

ChrisAnn Allen
Author: ChrisAnn Allen

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