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Building's renewal will return early 1900s look

Try not to panic if you notice a demolition crew hanging around at 1202 N Howard Ave.

The building formerly known as the Tampa Cuba Cigar Co. is getting a flashback-inspired makeover - based on how it looked more than 90 years ago.

The restoration "makes the building a contributing structure again," said Intelident Solutions spokeswoman Chris Duffy-Waldman. "It's just going to be refreshed, renewed, vibrant once again."

Intelident Solutions, a private company that owns Coast Dental Services and a few other dental-related businesses, purchased the 32,400-square-foot historic building in January.

The company hired Curts Gaines Hall Jones Architects to restore the building so Intelident can make it the company's headquarters, hopefully sometime in 2008.

Intelident also hired West Tampa historian Maura Barrios to help research the building's history so the restoration could be as accurate as possible. She was able to find historical photos and documents, plus drawings and news clippings that the architects will use as a guide.

The crew is scheduled to start the weeklong demolition today. Workers will be removing the "nonhistoric, noncontributing features" that have been added to the building through the years, Duffy-Waldman said.

The most noticeable change, she said, will probably be the removal of the green awnings.

Workers will also demolish a loading dock and a shed that was built on the south side of the building, as well as the free-standing columns along Howard.

By purchasing and restoring the building, the company hopes to support West Tampa's economic development plan, Duffy-Waldman said. She hopes it will open up a few job opportunities, too. "We're thrilled to make an investment that's needed," she said.

Intelident hopes to apply for a building permit in the next few months. The restoration is expected to take 12 to 18 months.

Erika Vidal can be reached at (813) 226-3339 or