With a deal to buy the larger of the two historic Whitney cottages for a bid of $45,000 now off the table, the once-prospective buyer and the Longboat Key Historical Society say they have an understanding to make up the difference.
JB Holding Co. owner James Brearley submitted a $45,000 bid to purchase the larger L-shaped cottage now at 521 Broadway St. However, Brearly and a friend did not feel comfortable with the amount of road noise coming from Gulf of Mexico Drive on their preferred lot in Longbeach Village and backed away from the purchase.
Brearley, who is a partner at Whitney’s restaurant, said he let Longboat Key Historical Society President Michael Drake know he was unable to move forward with purchasing the cottage. The next lower bid was one of $31,000, prompting Drake to seek the difference from JB Holding.
If necessary, Brearley said he would be happy to pay the difference. “I really don’t care about $10,000 as much as I do just about like harmony in the community up there,” Brearley said.
Brearley said he initially wanted to purchase the historic cottage to preserve the historic structure and for its charm. “If you’re looking to do it as more of an investment, it probably wouldn’t make sense,” Brearley said.
Drake said while there was not any kind of formal paperwork for the winning bid, emails between the two serve as proof of Brearley’s intent to purchase the cottage.
“According to our legal beagles, the email is basically a contractual thing because there was bidding going up and down, back and forth right up until 11:57 p.m. [Tuesday, Nov. 10] before the deadline,” Drake said.
Drake said Brearley submitted bids up until the closing minutes of the Nov. 11 deadline to purchase the larger cottage.
Brearley said Drake called him on Tuesday to let him know about paying the $14,000 difference.
“That being said, what I told him was like, ‘That’s fine, Michael. I value my friendship with you.’”
Drake said he doesn’t want to get into a legal battle with Brearley.
“The Historical Society is worth the $45,000 that [Brearley] bid on the cottage, and frankly, if it ends up that we only get the $31,000 from the second bidder, I’m still OK with it,” Drake said. “It’s better than nothing.
“What I don’t want is because somebody else didn’t really do their due diligence on where they were going to place the cottage to make that our problem. And, that’s how it feels right now is…because of somebody not really doing their due diligence, it ends up being back on the shoulders of the Historical Society, which I feel is very unfair.”
The Historical Society has paid $2,500 in monthly rent since August 2018 for the cottages to sit where they do now, according to Drake. The landowner is looking to sell the property at 521 Broadway St.
The smaller cottage is heading for the Town Center Green. The smaller 400-square-foot cottage will get moved to the northeast part of the Town Center site between the Public Tennis Center and the Shoppes of Bay Isles. The Historical Society came to a lease agreement with the town of Longboat Key for the smaller cottage, which was built around 1937 and one of the original structures of Whitney’s Beach Resort.