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Last night at City Hall

Largo owns up to derelict look and will raze its two buildings on West Bay

City commissioners decided it was too expensive to renovate two city-owned buildings on West Bay Drive in the city’s redevelopment area. The city bought them in October 2006 for $800,000.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

City commissioners decided it was too expensive to renovate two city-owned buildings on West Bay Drive in the city’s redevelopment area. The city bought them in October 2006 for $800,000.

The city plans to raze two boarded-up buildings on West Bay Drive.

Owned by the city of Largo, the structures are two of the worst-looking buildings on the road, said City Commissioner Woody Brown.

"It's bad when you drive down West Bay and two of the boarded-up buildings are the two that the city owns," Brown said Tuesday afternoon.

At a work session Tuesday night, city commissioners also considered refurbishing the buildings. But, after learning rehab cost estimates and hearing Public Works director Brian Usher describe the saga of maintaining them, city leaders decided the properties may be too expensive and difficult to fix and maintain.

"If I had a preference, I would just scrape them away and forget about them," Commissioner Rodney Woods said.

The buildings, a former drive-through coffee shop and a former print shop, sit on properties targeted by the city for redevelopment. Largo bought them for about $800,000 in October 2006, hoping to market them to a developer.

Marketing of the properties is at least a year away, said Community Development director Carol Stricklin.

The two-story print shop, vacant since the city bought it, has been vandalized. The city has had to paint over graffiti and fix broken windows and broken doors.

The city has also had to combat unwelcome visitors — humans and rodents — inside the former print shop, Usher said.

And about a year ago, Usher said, the city spent about $5,000 or $6,000 to rid the shop of termites.

As for the former coffee shop, Usher said the cost to bring it up to code would likely be prohibitive.

Nearby business owners said the Pura Vida coffee shop was fine when it was up and running. But it went downhill after the business left about eight months ago.

The cost to demolish both buildings is estimated at $23,875. Stricklin told commissioners it might cost from about $45,000 to $80,000, to rehab part of the former print shop, based on an estimate for basic repairs two years ago.

Mayor Pat Gerard was initially reluctant to raze the print shop and leave a vacant strip of land in its place, but after the 20-minute discussion, she was convinced.

"Fine," she said. "Go for it."

Largo owns up to derelict look and will raze its two buildings on West Bay 04/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 8:10am]
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