EAST MANATEE — The historic Beth Salem House at 3004 53rd Ave. E. underwent site preparation for demolition Tuesday to make way for a new RaceTrac service station.
According to Stine Construction superintendent Larry Barker, the property has already undergone a zoning inspection and workers are expected to begin removing some exterior infrastructure, such as the asphalt driveway, as early as Wednesday. The actual house could be knocked down as early as June 30.
“It will only take a week for full demolition,” said Barker. “We’ll be ready to start foundations for the new RaceTrac building right after the Fourth of July weekend. Our job is to fulfill the construction based on the plans, and these types of construction projects are similar to fast food places and convenience stores in being considered fast track projects.”
Barker said other types of commercial construction can take longer, but in the case of the new RaceTrac, Stine is on a 120-day construction schedule. Spokesman for RaceTrac, Larry Thigpen, confirmed that construction, beginning with the demolition of the Salem House, should begin next week.
RaceTrac purchased the property from the Reasoner family for $1.95 million in September 2014. The family said the property was too expensive to maintain and tried to have someone purchase the house, and move it for further preservation. While there was interest, there ultimately were no takers.
The Salem House is on the National Registry of Historic Places. The house sat on the former location of the family’s Royal Palm Nurseries business, which later moved to Parrish. It still operates today as Florida’s oldest nursery.
The house was the first in Southwest Florida to have in
door plumbing and among the first to have a telephone with a phone number of seven digits.
Thigpen said he hopes RaceTrac is bringing a needed service to East Manatee.
“I expect it will be a really good location,” he said. “We are looking to bring a quality place to the community and hopefully will be a great addition to the community.”
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.