ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council ruled unanimously to give control of roughly a dozen parking spaces adjacent to the historic YMCA at 116 Fifth St. S to the owner of the building once it is renovated. The hope is that the additional parking will make the 1926 building more attractive to someone who will spend big bucks to refurbish it.
"Now I know I have at least 25 spaces if you add those to what's already there," said Phil Powell, who owns the building and made the parking request of the city. "Twenty five spaces is really meaningful. If you get employees to park off-site that could be enough for a boutique hotel or an area to stick school buses in front of a museum."
Powell has been trying to sell the YMCA for several years and the lack of parking has been a concern for most interested parties. It is currently under contract to Thomas Nestor, a local music promoter who wants to convert it to a museum, concert venue and youth music center. He has received personal loans from three individuals for a $20,000 down payment and monthly installments of $8,000.
Nestor, who was also pleased with the council's parking decision, said he is in talks with donors and investors who are interested in investing significantly more money to partner with him to redevelop and save the building.
Powell said he's all for Nestor buying and saving the property. But in case he can't come up with the funds, he has a handful of other potential buyers who said they would be more interested with more parking. He will now reach out to them before asking the city for a permit to demolish the building as he did late last year. That would be a last resort if all else fails, he said.
"No one has come to me and said 'if you get 25 parking spaces we will sign a contract,' " Powell said. "But at least this opens the door to more possibilities."
Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.