ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Owners of an old-looking building in St. Augustine want to demolish it, but the city is saying not so fast. Research is being done to determine if it is indeed historic.
The new owners of 18 St. George Street are from Connecticut. They're asking the City of St. Augustine for permission to demolish it and build a retail mall there. Their architect, Don Crichlow, said they already own two others on St. George Street.
The owners want to demolish the beige and brown buildings on the property that face St. George Street, but there is another blue and white building on the back side of the property on Spanish Street. Crichlow said the owners don't want to tear that one down because it is historic, and they want to turn it into a cafe.
The city will not grant permission to demolish the beige building if it's determined to a historic.
"We don't feel that it is," Crichlow said.
He said the original building was a house and dates to the 1890s, but you can't see that part anymore. It's because in the 1960s, the city was reconstructing buildings on this part of St. George Street "to make them look colonial."
At the time, the beige and brown house did not look colonial. So Crichlow said the city's historic board approached the homeowner, and "they asked him, 'Listen, you need to do something or we're going to take your house by eminent domain.' He said, 'Ok. I'll do something.'"
So, he said the homeowner remodeled the house in the 1960s to look colonial "and that's the way it's been since the '60s."
Crichlow and his clients argue that the beige building can be demolished and that it's not historic "because it's been so impacted and modified."
"It's been remodeled so bad that there's nothing of the original historic elements and fabric of the building left," he said.