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Photo by: Sarah Wilson - The 128-year-old Capen House in Winter Park has a stay of execution after a contentious meeting in which the owners' attorney said they'll wait another 30 days.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013 5 years ago

Capen House spared for now

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Owners postpone demolition
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

Winter Park residents fighting to preserve the128-year-old Capen House saw a glimmer of hope during Monday’s Winter Park City Commission meeting – the property owners announcing they were willing to temporarily hold off on its demolition to find a better solution.

Owners John and Betsy Pokorny were represented at the meeting by attorney Trippe Cheek, who coincidentally was Winter Park’s city attorney until 2009. He informed the Commission that his clients were willing to postpone demolition for another 30 days upon receiving the demolition permit this month. This, he said, could buy time for preservation activists to brainstorm ways to fund the relocation of the house.

“They’ll do that by their own agreement, so you didn’t do it to them and you shouldn’t worry about being sued for that,” Cheek said. “The purpose of that period of time will be to receive and consider reasonable proposals to move the house in a reasonable time.”

“What we would ask is, frankly, that the Commission will take no action. You don’t need to take any action.”

The owners could have demolished the formerly historically designated home as early as this Thursday, desiring to build a new house on the lakefront property. The Winter Park City Commission had recognized the house as a historic landmark back in 2011, but the home was taken off the list a year later when mortgage holder SunTrust reported that previous owner Clardy Malugen registered the home during a foreclosure process, making the registration void.

The Winter Park heirloom was vulnerable once again until Monday night.

Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley said the Pokornys’ offer procured possible promise for the Capen House’s future.

“I’m very excited about the offer of the current owners for the opportunity to really come up with, what I would suggest, is a potentially peaceful solution where everyone wins,” Bradley said. “Today spoke about the best of Winter Park, that when issues are raised, people can get together and talk about them.”

“I think that tonight is certainly a victory for people working together.”

Cheek said the Pokornys will continue to speak with companies over the next month about moving the house to a new location.

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