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The Seaside Institute’s Academic Village closes out an era

special to Gannett Florida
Walton Sun

SEASIDE — The Seaside Institute will oversee the removal of the Academic Village cottages located in Seaside which have provided a place for students of all ages to learn, study, collaborate and reflect for over seven years.

The Seaside Institute’s Academic Village was completed in August 2013. This long-desired addition to the Lyceum area in Seaside is a concept that was discussed by Seaside’s founders, Robert and Daryl Davis, since the early 1980s.

“I will miss the Katrina Cottages,” stated Robert Davis, co-founder of Seaside. “The period before their arrival in Seaside was fraught with conflict and confusion. A few people created a campaign that convinced quite a few more that Seaside would be ruined by a trailer camp. When they finally were placed around a courtyard forming the Academic Village, artfully designed by Dhiru Thadani, many of those who vociferously opposed the project told me how pleased they were by the Village and how happy they were that we did not bring trailers to Seaside.”

The village included seven repurposed Katrina cottages, two large boardwalks and a 3,000-square-foot courtyard. The Academic Village became a reality in 2013 through the generosity of the Dorney Family, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, the Geier Family, the Montague Family, Frank Starkey and the Stice Family.

“The Academic Village was a splendid place for receptions and served well as housing for people coming to Seaside for symposia and seminars,” added Davis. “The Katrina Cottages met opposition initially because some homeowners were convinced that they would become a low-income housing project. In fact, they were conceived as student housing, but could not be rented to students at prices they could afford and break even.”

On Dec. 31, 2019, when the collective sponsorships of the Academic Village cottages expired, the Seaside Institute entered into an agreement to sell the seven cottages to a private group of investors, who intend to repurpose them. “Now, at last, they will become affordable housing for people who work in our area but cannot afford to live here,” said Davis. “They are moving a few miles away and will have yet another life after serving as post disaster emergency housing after Hurricane Katrina (humane and elegant substitutes for FEMA trailers) and as student housing in Seaside. Buon viaggio; buona fortuna.”

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