Third Street cottages demolition reprieved

Council votes 3-2 in favor of the request from architect of the Wendt property project.

May 05, 2011|By Barbara Diamond,

The Third Street cottages received another reprieve from demolition at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

The council voted 3 to 2, with Council Members Elizabeth Pearson and Kelly Boyd opposing, in favor of a demolition delay requested by Michael Blakemore, architect for Ken Fischbeck's Wendt property project, which he had wanted but then declined to incorporate the cottages most recently.

Blakemore said he approached another client who is planning on building a compound on a 15-acre parcel.

"He has a great deal of interest in two of the cottages," Blakemore said. "He would like a short due diligence period, about 90 days. This might be the one last chance to save the cottages."


He has 35 days.

"It's time to put this to bed, but I have no problem putting it back on the agenda for the June 7 meeting," Mayor Pro Tem Jane Egly said. "If no one comes in [with a solid proposal that includes a removal date] they are gone."

Boyd, who forecast four years ago that the cottages would rot at Big Bend, advised any potential takers that the offer should not say a year was needed to complete the project.

"We've waited 4.5 years," Boyd said. "Two people said they would take the cottages and then said no, they wouldn't work."

Boyd's only question was how soon the cottages could be demolished.

"I thought this question might arise so I contacted [Laguna Canyon Foundation President] Derek Ostensen and he said six to eight weeks," City Manager John Pietig said.

Boyd said he was shocked that any architect would recommend relocating the cottages.

Should Blakemore's client decide against incorporating the cottages in his project, the Laguna Canyon Foundation will be given the green light to clear the property, which the city has approved for a trail head and wildlife crossing.

"I am sorry the previous people haven't followed through, but I never lose hope," said former Mayor Ann Christoph.

She read a letter from the widow of land surveyor Alan B. Clark, that recounted her husband's pleasure in the cottage he occupied as an office for more than 45 years and his pride when it received a Beautification Council award.

Christoph said the redwood cottage was the quaintest of the three at Big Bend.

Tex Haines, who owns Victoria Skimboards adjacent to the cottages, said they shouldn't be saved.

"This is really personal because I sit there and look at the cottages. And the more I sit and look, the more I wonder why we are saving them," Haines said. "The siding is paper-thin, the floors are gone and the roofs are covered with ivy. Trying to find people to take them is putting an albatross around their necks."

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