Historic building in Venice getting second chance

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Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 4:56 pm | Updated: 9:35 am, Mon May 5, 2014.

VENICE, Fla. - Imagine someone hired to remodel your home instead starts to tear it down. That's what happened to a nearly 90 year old apartment building in Venice. Now the owner of the historic building, thanks to some help, still has the opportunity to save it.

The 1920's apartment building has seen better days. "The idea was to refurbish that building." About a year ago owner Axel De Cevron Villette says he was working to restore it when a subcontractor gutted the inside for scrap. "They came over and basically took the job to heart and demolished a little more then we expected."

Then city's historical resource director, James Hagler, caught wind of the situation. "It came before the architectural review board and it was told there was no way to save this building. I knew that was not true."

Hagler says old records show it was initially called the Rose Hill East Apartments, one of just a few original buildings in the city constructed by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. Other buildings constructed by them can also be seen in neighborhood. "This was a plan of John Nolan from the beginning. This is one of four districts that we have within the city."

Hagler says the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. That can allow for some building code exceptions. "It would provide with a few exceptions that would allow us to potentially refurbish the building and not have to build it as it were a new build."

Hagler says Venice's original city plan is as unique as places like Savannah Georgia, and Washington D.C. These buildings are an important piece of history. "It's what makes Venice, Venice. It's a historical value of what we have. Our history has to start somewhere."

It's not a done deal. Axle is now working with the local Ritz Construction Corp and Del Vescovo Design Group to bring back all the details. Saving history isn't cheap. "I need to know how much money I am going to have to pour in to save the building. Everything is in place."

We talked to a number of neighbors who are just thankful something is going to be done here with the property. Even more thankful though, it appears the historic building will be saved.

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