Old Northeast residents sue neighbor over plans to raze a historic home

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

Four Historic Old Northeast homeowners are suing their neighbor and the city of St. Petersburg over plans to demolish a historic home in the neighborhood and rebuild a modern home on the property.

William and Catherine Cobb and David and Elizabeth Skidmore live on the 700 block of 18th Avenue Northeast want to overturn city approval for Richard McGinniss’s plan to rebuild a home on his property with one of his own designs.

McGinniss is a certified general contractor and CEO of Modern Tampa Bay Homes. He purchased a home on the Historic Old Northeast block in 2015 for $390,000, according to property records. The house was built in 1925.

Last year, neighbors on the block successfully petitioned the city to designate their street as a local historic district, which protects it from major renovation projects and new construction.

Under that designation, homeowners in the designated zone have to obtain a certificate of appropriateness from city staff for external renovations to their properties. For new construction, property owners must also receive approval from the St. Pete City Council.

City Council approved McGinniss’s plan earlier this year.

The Skidmore and Cobb families were among several on the small block who pushed for the historic designation to thwart new construction and renovations that were not conducive to the neighborhood’s historic aesthetic.

McGinniss opposed that plan last March noting that it was an infringement on property rights. He was joined in dissent by another property owner on the block, Arnie Cummings, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Cummings’ property consists of just a garage apartment because the main structure planned for the property was never built.

Cummings is not named in the suit, and it’s unclear whether his plans to build a new home on his property have advanced. After last year’s historic designation, Cummings told the Times he might instead rent out the apartment on his property.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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