‘It will be rebuilt’: Foundation says obstacles won’t stop restoration of Tampa’s historic Jackson House

Tampa’s historic Jackson House is in disrepair in downtown.

Today at a meeting of the District of Tampa Community Redevelopment Area, representatives of the Jackson House Foundation said that obstacles to the restoration of the historic building cannot be stopped.

Just a block away from Tampa’s historic Union Station, the Jackson House, built in 1901, is in disrepair and in need of major renovations.

The historic cabin sheltered Black visitors, including famous names such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was not allowed to stay in other hotels due to segregation. Mayor Bob Buckhorn called for its demolition, but city officials saved it in 2014. However, the building — located at 851 E Zack St — is in need of repairs and could be torn down. alone if nothing is done to fix it soon. .

The most recent challenge for the restoration comes from the need for more space to rebuild, which a simple house will provide. But the convenience should be allowed by 717 Parking, managed by Jason and John Accardi, owners of the parking lot surrounding the Jackson House.

The Tampa Bay Times reported last month that, after a year of negotiations, the Accardi brothers rejected the foundation for a 10-foot easement to meet fire codes for the reconstruction. At the same time, the Accardi brothers said they understood the historical importance of the building, but they rejected the money and trade offers from the foundation.

Today, the Chairman of the Jackson House Foundation Carolyn Collins told the CRA that the house will be renovated in one way or another.

“It’s going to be rebuilt,” Collins said. “We are ready to move forward with the process and with the help we have received from the State of Florida.”

The foundation has $3 million in funding commitments to rebuild the building, but without the easement, rebuilding will cost more. The exact number is uncertain, but representatives from the Tampa Bay History Center estimate it could cost around $4 million. City staff say the cost could be higher.

Regarding the ease with which the Accardis refuse, Collins said, “There is a lot to achieve and it will only sacrifice a few parking spaces.”

However, Collins and the Tampa Bay History Center said the rebuild will continue.

Councilman Bill Carlson said he has been advocating for the Jackson House since 2013. He asked to discuss the property at the meeting and said the CRA, which has already provided $1 million for the renovating the house for 2023, there is expertise. to help rebuild outside the city’s budget.

“The CRA board [representatives] is similar to the city council but it is a very different organization that stands alone from the city and we have the resources to help the building. of Jackson,” Carlson said. “So we can work on these issues.”

Carlson explained that what he would like to see happen soon is a partnership with the CRA, the foundation and the Tampa Bay History Center to address the needs. quick setup of Jackson House. From there, he wants to see a complete renovation and restoration.

C.J. Roberts, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay History Center, said the museum partnered with the foundation and the University of South Florida to put up the interior wall that holds the building in place now, and they set up a barrier in the property area. . Roberts told the CRA that USF kept a record of the building’s contents, so that the contents could be properly installed when it was renovated.

“The house is very weak and time is definitely not on our side.”

“But as we have all pointed out, the building is very weak and the time is definitely not coming to us,” said Roberts.

The vision for the Jackson home is to restore it as a historic building, as well as a Museum of African American History, Roberts said. He told the CRA that keeping the building in its original location is important because “it’s one of the last things that was once a vibrant African American neighborhood and there’s nothing left, and it’s telling that story is important.”

But it may be a challenge to restore the building if the Accardis are not willing to negotiate.

Councilor Guido Maniscalco asked if the special land could be used to buy land needed for use. City attorney Morris Massey, who is sitting in for city council attorney Martin Shelby in his absence, said the historic administration is not an option for the CRA.

But he said there are avenues to explore that can help rehabilitate the building, and the options under the city council are broader than the CRA. However, the city must first own the land to assess the chief executive, and currently it is the property of the Jackson House Foundation.

Tampa Economic Development Director Nicole Travis—who thinks the renovations will cost more than the estimated $4 million—told the CRA that she could come back in November with a report on other funds that can be available for a negotiation with the Accardi brothers on the ease. .

But the CRA also wants 30% of its funds to go to affordable housing next year, so its department must calculate how much money is available.

“I can also look and see what money is available in the city, outside of [previous] commitments that could be used to further support the Jackson House,” he said.