Friday, October 16, 2015

10 days late, Record covers demolition proposal re: historic, iconic Santa Maria Restaurant

My October 7 story here:
Saturday, October 17 Record story here:
Demolition of former Santa Maria up for decision
Posted: October 16, 2015 - 8:09pm | Updated: October 17, 2015 - 12:07am
When the Santa Maria closed this year, the plan was to transform the building into a special new restaurant.
While the vision for the property is still forming, the team behind the project have a preliminary design and a clear goal ahead: getting a demolition permit and an opinion of appropriateness from the city of St. Augustine.
“We’re in the infancy stage,” David White said about the proposal to turn the decades-old Santa Maria property into a new restaurant.
The property is at 135 Avenida Menendez and extends over the water at the bayfront. White and the team bought the building for $2.3 million, and the Santa Maria restaurant shut its doors in March.
Renderings filed with the city show what the property could look like. White said right now that’s the vision for the property, plus or minus some lesser details like paint color.
“I’d like to have it opened by January of 2017,” White said. “But we’ll see.”
The team hasn’t settled on a name for the new venture and aren’t releasing more details about the new restaurant at this time, White said. But the proposal includes demolishing the structure and creating a new building.
White said that the more he looked at the property, the less desire he had to rehabilitate it because of the repairs needed.
St. Augustine’s Historic Architectural Review Board is expected to vote on the demolition permit and the opinion of appropriateness at a Nov. 19 meeting, officials said.
The board considers the condition of a property when evaluating a demolition permit application, said David Birchim, director of the planning and building department.
“It’s not in good shape,” Birchim said, adding that the building is exposed to the elements and maintenance has been deferred.
The new building will require new pilings to support the structure. So renovating the building means more than just a new coat of paint, Birchim said. The location of the building over the water also makes routine fixes more difficult such as connecting utilities.
The board also considers a building’s history and architectural significance, he said.
Remodeled over time, the site was originally a private residence between 1910 and 1917 for a former mayor of St. Augustine, according to Florida Master Site File information. The building served as a residence/oyster house through the mid or late 1920s and became a fish house in the 1930s before housing the Santa Maria seafood restaurant.
The structure was one of several seafood houses along the bayfront and San Sebastian before the 1970s, said Charles Tingley, senior research librarian at the St. Augustine Historical Society Research Library.
“It’s a last remnant of a different era of St. Augustine tourism, when there were a number of docks that had structures along the waterfront here,” Tingley said.
White said he wants to begin renovating the property in January, but that depends on what the city decides.
If granted the opinion of appropriateness and a demolition permit, White would still need to get a certificate of appropriateness and a building permit, Birchim said.

Morris1 10/17/15 - 01:44 am 00That's a tricky property.
Super iconic landmark property, but potentially tricky from a regulatory standpoint. I hope they have a realistic estimation of the rehab costs and have their environmental stuff sorted out. Since its literally smack dab in a navigable waterway, its probably going to trigger both USACE and FDEP jurisdiction, which can entail jumping through a series of flaming hoops and filling out 1000 forms before you're allowed to blink. I would guess they would probably take a soft line on that place since its historic in nature but still, a property like that has the potential to be in the 'dedicated team of lawyers' range of regulatory compliance headache.

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