Batmasian said he’ll put a plaque in front of the planned development at 101 Pine Circle to commemorate the top-secret radar training during World War II. But beyond that, he said he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. He just wants to build a new daycare center, something he believes the community needs.
“This happens to be an eyesore and a hazard in the neighborhood,” Batmasian said. “There are bums and homeless people staying there. It’s old and it’s falling apart.”
Batmasian said he’s met with officials of the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum about the property he bought at a
auction six months ago. Officials there declined to comment on the situation, but its website calls the site “one of the most historically significant structures in all of Boca Raton.”
It is “a major contributor to the unique WWII legacy of Boca Raton,” the website says.
For Arlene Owens, a member of the city’s Historic Preservation Board, the possible destruction of the building is one of the hazards of a real estate market that is heating up.
Another home with historical significance recently has gone up for sale, she said. The van Dresser house at 745 W. Palmetto Park Road, built in 1939, was the first Catholic rectory in the city and the former home of William van Dresser, a portrait artist who also illustrated the cover of a Jack London novel.
“Historic preservation was having a moment of pause,” Owens said of the recession-induced halt in development. “Nothing was moving and you didn’t have to worry about someone buying and bulldozing.”
Right now, Old Floresta and Pearl City are the only sections of the city that the Historic Preservation Board has designated historic districts. It doesn’t stop property owners from making changes, but it does require an appearance in front of the Historic Preservation Board, so there’s another layer of review before history disappears.
It wasn’t really the history but the cypress beams and wall paneling that Barbara Wasserman said she loves about the van Dresser house. She’s selling for a number of reasons — and is hoping she can find a buyer who appreciates its décor and its significance.
She bought it for $725,000 in 2005, according to the Palm Beach County Appraiser’s website; it’s now listed at $678,000.
“Although I adore this house and would like to see it stay here forever, it’s really up to whoever buys it,” she said.