A local music promoter with a passion for a particular piece of history claims he has secured a temporary reprieve for St. Petersburg's first YMCA building.
"An investor who would like to remain anonymous -- I have to pay them back -- wrote me a check yesterday for $20,000," Tom Nestor said Thursday, adding that would pay for an option to buy the building for $1.4 million.
The owner of the building had applied for a special permit to demolish the historic landmark, and a hearing was scheduled for Friday, but was canceled at the owner's request.
Nestor envisions turning the old "Y" into a music-oriented community center, and now has the support of St. Petersburg Preservation. A hastily-arranged tour of the building last weekend attracted hundreds of people, many of whom signed "No Demolition" post cards.
St. Pete Preservation president Peter Belmont delivered several hundred cards to St. Petersburg's City Council Thursday, and more arrived via mail.
"We're here to make sure that city council understands that the public wants no demolition of the YMCA," Belmont told a sparsely-attended news event on the steps of city hall.
The "Y" was built in 1926 with contributions from many citizens, civic organizations and local building contractors.
"You can look at that building and immediately see the architectural value," said St. Pete Preservation vice president Emily Elwyn. "It's absolutely a stunning Mediterranean Revival style building."
Asbestos removal gutted much of the building, but Nestor thinks now "It's basically steel and concrete ready to be made into something."
City documents describe it as a four-story, 51,000 square foot building in reasonably sound condition. A staff report concludes the special demolition permits should be denied because the current owner has not proven there is no viable use for the property.
Nestor claims he is bidding against a $1.2 million offer for the land under the former "Y". City documents confirm the end-user would be an unidentified bank that wants to build a drive-through facility.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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