Saltaire officials and residents are weighing if the price is right to accept the donation of a historic house.
The owners of a century-old home have offered to give it to the village if officials move it from their property — a deal officials estimate could cost them around $300,000.
“Even though the donation doesn’t cost anything itself, there’s other associated costs with accepting it,” village administrator Mario Posillico said. “If the board can save that structure, it would like to.”
The house was built around 1911 and worked on by Mike Coffey, one of Saltaire’s original builders who briefly lived in the residence on Pacific Walk, officials said. It was sold last year for just over $1 million to Pacific Walk LLC, according to property records.
The home on Pacific Walk, which was featured in a village display celebrating Saltaire’s centennial, is “almost entirely untouched,” said Eric Schiller, the architect for the homeowners. It is one of the few original houses left after nearly half the village’s housing stock was swept to sea in a 1938 hurricane.
The 1,200-square-foot home did not fit with the needs of the couple behind Pacific Walk LLC — whose last name is Hartsel, according to village documents — and they wanted to preserve the house instead of tearing it down or renovating it past the point of recognition, Schiller said.
“The home of the original builder would then become a building owned by everybody and open to the public,” he said.
Mayor John Zaccaro Jr. said they would use the building either to house a village employee or rent it out to earn a revenue stream. It would be moved about 100 feet across Beach Plum Walk to an unused village property, a former tree nursery.
The homeowners want the site cleared by October to begin construction on a new house, officials said.
The village board voted on April 10 to spend up to $35,000 to explore options for accepting the house, including by hiring consultants.
Officials have since accepted Schiller’s pro bono offer to create architectural and engineering documents.
They emphasized that any deal would reserve the village’s right to back out at any time, noting that moving forward depends largely on the price tag. Costs would include building a new foundation and installing plumbing.
“The money is really where we are. I think it’s great we would be saving a Coffey house if we take it,” trustee Hugh O’Brien said. “This house makes sense only because it’s a very brief move.”
Residents were split on the proposal at a recent meeting. Some argued they did not think the house was historic enough to warrant the expenditure while others said the village would benefit from the deal. They agreed that officials needed to nail down the price tag before committing.
“It’s an opportunity we should grab if it works financially for us,” resident Gail Davis said. “It’s too good an opportunity to waste.”