Open houses the past two Saturdays have introduced preservationists to people who know more about St. Petersburg's former YMCA building. Now videographer Andrew Odell wants to capture some of their memories for a fund-raising documentary.
"We'd like to meet with anyone who is affiliated with anyone who worked on the original building -- architect, designer, grandchildren, children -- anyone who really has any knowledge about the history of this place," Odell said Wednesday, "My goal is to allow others who don't have the opportunity to come here to feel what I feel when I walk around this historic building."
The video is part of a growing effort to save an unusually ornate building that opened in 1927 and was St. Petersburg's "Y" until 2001. Two renovation schemes in the past failed. Last year, a bank proposed demolishing the building and replacing it with a drive-through facility.
That is when local music promoter Tom Nestor got involved and cut a deal with the current owner.
"We are $44,000 in on payments to close on the property. Our goal is to hopefully close by June," Nestor said. "The purchase price now is $1.4 million."
Nestor said renovations could cost between $3.5 and $5.2 million. He envisions a music-themed community center: Music classes, music therapy, musical performances.
"Our pledge to the city is never a demo, never a condo, always a community space, always for public benefit," he said, a reference to a city council decision to relinquish ownership of street parking spaces if the plan succeeds.
Public contributions financed the construction of the "Y", which features an indoor swimming pool, ornate ironwork and fireplaces, large cypress beams and a lot of colorful ceramic tile walls. The building is located at 116 Fifth Street South and will be open to the public again this Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Contact and other information is at historicymca.com
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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