The city of Sarasota is taking a stand for its African American community of Newtown by launching a program to preserve its historic properties.
The Newton Historic Building Preservation Pilot Program started with the intention of restoring, rehabilitating and renovating properties in the 100-year-old African American enclave.
“The preservation program was started as part of an ongoing process,” said Clifford Smith, senior planner for the city of Sarasota. “Newtown has a very unique history and identity and we want people to understand its history and its culture and its heritage.”
The project also aims to stabilize and improve Newtown’s property values and tax base. Plans include the enhancement of the community’s appeal as a place to work, live or visit.
“The goals of this program are to increase the economic development of Newtown, to increase the education and well-being of the people in Newtown,” Smith said.
Property owners who are eligible to take part in the program may be able to receive a portion of the program’s $200,000 funding.
“This program is being funded by the Community Redevelopment Area,” said Smith. “One of the things we are asking the owners, as part of this grant program, is to hire local labor and local contractors so that the money goes back into the community.”
To be eligible, buildings must be at least 50 years old and located on property within the community limits. So far, there are four structures ready for renovation.
For more information, call the Office of Economic Development at 941-365-2200, ext. 3223.