Edgewater residents are clinging to hope that a huge, partially constructed waterfront "eyesore" will come down.
The city has no plans to purchase the years-vacant, bank-owned property, but residents fueled with hope that new, more stringent city codes will thwart private buyers' interest in it, are brainstorming ideas for its future use as a veteran's memorial park.
The 11,198-square-foot parcel is zoned for a single-family home, according to Greg Rice, director of planning and development. Neighbors say that aside from being over-sized and “ugly,” the building is not built to city code, its electric wiring and water system is not installed correctly, and now that it’s been sitting for so long, steel beams are rusting.
Rumors that the bank would sell it at the end of January prompted many neighbors to demonstrate outside the property at 570 Edgewater Drive on Jan. 23.
A handful of residents on the Edgewater Drive Advisory Committee met publically with Rice on Feb. 15, and scrutinized the city’s code and permitting laws for loopholes that might bring it down immediately.
They found nothing.
The property’s building permit expired on Dec. 17, and the new or current owner is within the 180-day grace period (which ends roughly June 14) for reinstating the permit, but under new, more strict city codes.
Rice explained that the new codes have construction time limits and allow for city leaders to request situational reviews on any waterfront or overlay projects that appear to degrade the intended character or building guidelines.
“It would give them solid, legal standing to deny [a permit],” Rice said.
Jeff Ricketts of Clearwater purchased the property for $299,000 in 1999 from a couple in Boca Raton, according to county property records. Longtime Edgewater Drive neighbors say they noticed construction stop in 2006. North River Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of Iberia Bank in Bradenton, assumed ownership in lieu of foreclosure in July 2009, county records show.
The property is listed on AOL Real Estate for $999,900 with nine bedrooms and nine bathrooms. Its fair market value is $362,543, according to county property records.
County property records also show that Iberia Bank still owns the parcel as of Feb. 16.
The citizen committee meets again, tentatively, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 4 p.m. in the Planning Department conference room to discuss its longterm plan for Edgewater Drive.