Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Official Optimistic on Grant for Restoration of Hotel

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Official Optimistic on Grant for Restoration of Hotel

Article excerpt

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- They didn't have to twist his arm.

When city officials consulted this week with Walter Marder, a

preservation architect with the Florida Bureau of Historic

Preservation, about potential state help for the restoration of

the old Qui-Si-Sana Hotel, he enthusiastically offered his

support.

Marder said a city plan to purchase and restore the hotel, one

of the last remnants of Green Cove Springs' turn-of-the-century

resort era, would have a strong chance of receiving state

historic preservation grants for the city and/or tax credits for

a developer.

Also, he said he would help city officials prepare applications

for the grant money.

"Green Cove Springs is a relatively small town that has been

blessed with a lot of really nice history. But you can't afford

all that history," Marder said. "We realize you are under the

gun with historic resources and with money. Our job . . . is to

fill in that gap."

In the early 1900s, the Qui-Si-Sana played a central role in the

city's life as a popular resort. Wealthy tourists came to that

hotel and others nearby to play and for the medicinal benefits

of the city's natural sulfur springs just west of the hotel. The

hotel ceased being a tourist attraction in the 1940s and quit

accepting guests 2 1/2 years ago.

The Qui-Si-Sana has fallen into disrepair in recent years and,

although structurally sound, would cost millions to restore. But

city officials and local preservationists link the fate of the

hotel -- and the city block it sits on -- to the fate of the

city's ongoing downtown redevelopment effort.

That's why the City Council voted in January to buy the hotel

for $275,000 with hopes of restoring all or part of it and

developing the property.

Marder met Monday with City Manager Eric Meserve and members of

the City Council, Community Redevelopment Agency and city staff

about the project. Also in attendance was Ken Carey, the main

trustee of the family foundation that currently owns the hotel,

and members of the Clay County Historical Society. …

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