A house for $1, plus (a few) costs


A 2,300-square-foot house in one of Sarasota’s oldest neighborhoods can be had for $1 — plus some associated costs.

The owners, newcomers from Atlanta, love their 1215 Pomelo Ave. property, but the house itself isn’t as contemporary as they’d prefer.

This house on Pomelo Avenue in Sarasota is being offered for $1 to anyone who will move  it. (Staff photo / Harold Bubil)

This house on Pomelo Avenue in Sarasota is being offered for $1 to anyone who will move it. (Staff photo / Harold Bubil)

Rather than see it scrapped, Robert and Julie Henry are offering it for sale for a dollar — with a slight catch: The buyer has to move it to a new location.

That cost, however, including a new foundation and utility hookups, will tack on as much as $130,000.

There’s also the issue of width. The house is a bit wider than the surrounding streets, Pomelo and Bahia Vista Street. To move the house, it’ll have to be cut in two and reassembled at a new site.

And there’s the height. A second level added in the 1990s would have to be removed before the residence could be relocated, said Brett Johnson, a well-known house mover in Parrish.

GALLERY: Click here for more photos of the Pomelo Avenue house that's on the market for $1

“So it’s free, but it’s not so free,” Johnson said. “The carpenters said it would be better to demo the top floor and then put a new set of trusses on it after the move. There is no, simple, cut-and-dried way to do it.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the complications have dissuaded more than a few potential buyers attracted by the too-good-to-be-true price.

rBUCK046“You would have to cut it in half right through the living room, which has beautiful oak floors,” Johnson said. “It can be done, but when you put all the numbers together, most people go away. It breaks my heart.”

Not everything would have to be dismantled, though. The house’s kitchen would remain intact, as would four bedrooms and three baths that occupy the ground floor.

One inquirer wanted to move the house to Osprey, until they found out just how much that would cost, said Realtor Barbara Sassen May of brokerage firm Michael Saunders & Co., who has been working with the owners.

Another agreed to take it and scrap the house for parts, but the Henrys killed that idea. If any salvaging is to be done, they say, they’ll do it.

Sarasota Heights

The Henrys bought the property in June for $605,000 from Robin S. Speidel, the grandson of Lynn L. Silvertooth, who moved into the house in 1945.

If they can find a taker for the house, Bob Henry said he will throw in the kitchen’s expensive Viking oven.

Inside the Sarasota house that's on the market for $1. (Staff photo / Harold Bubil)

Inside the Sarasota house that's on the market for $1. (Staff photo / Harold Bubil)

A bit of history comes with the place, too.

Silvertooth, whose nephew Lynn N. Silvertooth was a noted judge for whom the Sarasota County Judicial Center is named, still has his name etched in a knocker door.

Decades ago, the neighborhood now known as Bungalow Hill was called Sarasota Heights. Scottish immigrants to Sarasota who arrived in 1885 stayed away because the area was thought to be too lawless.

Speidel took ownership of the property in 1991, made a series of improvements.

Most notable was the work to convert the attic into two bedrooms and a gabled bath.

Bathrooms on the first floor were expanded and the kitchen rebuilt with new wiring and plumbing, too, and central heat and air conditioning were installed. Wood floors were restored using heart-pine planks from the attic.

“I love the house,” Speidel said in 2000. “We always had our holiday gatherings here. I never wanted it to leave the family. It’s an old-style, comfortable house, and we love the neighborhood.”

Moving houses

Moving a house isn’t so difficult or complicated under the right conditions, Johnson said.

Most are moved in the middle of the night, so that power lines can be lifted out of the way and traffic is usually minimal.

Police often escort the procession.

There’s plenty of precedence locally, too.

Last year, a 1915 house at 1007 Citrus Ave. in Bungalow Hill was moved to Gillespie Park — just days before it was slated to be razed.

But perhaps most famously in Sarasota, in November 2003 developer Mark Famiglio relocated the 65-year-old Beattie-Weissgerber House onto a lot at Second Street and Cocoanut Avenue in downtown Sarasota.

That move cost about $125,000, but with associated costs it went up to roughly $350,000, said Johnson, who executed the switch.

Sometimes, though, moving a residence just doesn’t make sense.

Earlier this year in Manatee County, homeowner Ward Reasoner offered his family’s historic home for sale for $95,000 for anyone who would relocate it.

He got no takers. Built in the late 1890s, Beth Salem, as it is known, will soon be razed for a RaceTrac gas station and convenience store.

The home, one of the 10 oldest structures in the county and on the National Register of Historic Places, would likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to move even a short distance because of its immense size.

“Obviously, this isn’t a project for the faint of heart, May, the Saunders’ Realtor, said of the Pomelo Avenue house. “But just think of the piece of Sarasota history you will have to cherish.”


Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: November 3, 2014
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