Saturday, January 20, 2018
Business

Campaign to preserve historic St. Petersburg YMCA buys another month

ST. PETERSBURG — Thomas Nestor, the music promoter who holds a lease on the historic YMCA, has bought himself more time to devise a way to hold onto the building.

The YMCA's owner, Phil Powell, said Monday that Nestor had come through with the $8,000 monthly installment. This gives him another month to elicit more donations toward the $1.4 million cost of buying the building, which Nestor hopes to cover with a combination of philanthropy, grants, and corporate sponsorships.

If he's unsuccessful, the building, which needs $3 million in renovations, could be torn down next year to make room for a bank.

Whether Nestor would be able to make Monday's payment was in some doubt. Originally due on Jan. 15, the deadline was postponed a week, time he used to drum up funding. Friday, he posted a message on the Facebook page dedicated to preserving the building, begging donors to step forward. "No payment by close of business Monday — bye bye Y to bank demo."

"On Saturday, a kind angel No. 3 stepped up with $8,000 cash," Nestor said.

Like the lenders who covered Nestor's past $20,000 down payment and the $8,000 due in December, this latest lender also wished to remain anonymous, Nestor said. Two of the lenders live in St. Petersburg, he said, and the third lives in Belleair.

Nestor said he has been borrowing money because, up until recently, he was unable to legally accept donations. But now that he has the state's permission, he is planning to launch a new website to campaign for the building's survival.

Powell's application to obtain city approval to raze the building is on hold. In the meantime, he is asking the city to turn over a handful of parking spaces on Second Avenue S and Fifth Street to the YMCA building.

"We do have other people that have re-emerged that are interested if parking is available," he said.

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779.

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