DUNEDIN — The rusting metal warehouse at 940 Douglas Ave. is coming down.
The 1.9-acre Keller Sales and Engineering site is up for sale and its 25,000-square-foot warehouse will be demolished.
Representatives for the property's owners came before the City Commission last week requesting a zoning change, which they say will make the property more appealing to prospective buyers and allow the site to be used for a variety of businesses.
The City Commission agreed and approved the first of two readings to change the land's zoning.
The metal fabrication company is owned by the Keller and Angelillis families. Morgan Angelillis, office manager, told commissioners the site could house a multiuse facility with shops, a parking garage or possibly a hotel.
"I believe I speak for young people throughout the city when I say I would prefer the property rise as a vibrant gathering place for the future of Dunedin than as an empty memorial to its industrial roots," Angelillis said.
Jerry Rehm, real estate broker for the project and owner of Gerald S. Rehm and Associates, said he's been in negotiations with a dozen investors since January. He said there is no date for the demolition and wouldn't disclose an asking price.
The warehouse has remained empty since February when the company moved to a more modern site on San Christopher Road. The company's new name is Keller-Angelillis Design and Manufacturing Inc.
The Douglas Avenue site's history dates back to 1921 when the B.C. Skinner family worked there on the industrial side of the citrus business.
In 1955, the Keller and the Angelillis families bought the property where they made steel tanks, conveyer systems and other metal goods for the citrus industry.
The building sustained hurricane damage in 2004 and one of the roof supports collapsed in 2005, Morgan Angelillis said. That's when the company moved to an industrial park, where it continues to make steel products for several industries including wastewater treatment.
Angelillis said she's aware the unstable building is considered an eyesore by many but still loves the building that has been in her family for so long.
Roz Doherty, an employee at Kina Kouture on Main Street and a former downtown business owner, called the building "trashy chic."
Bert Halle, the owner of the clothing boutique, said he'd love to see the site developed into retail stores with loft apartments or condos above.
Lynn Wargo, president of the city's Chamber of Commerce, said she'd like to see something more fitting with downtown's look and feel.
"I think it will be good for the downtown," she said.
Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at (727) 445-4181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.