Venice land could be new gateway to city

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VENICE, FL - The Venice city council taking a big step towards developing land on the southern part of the island of Venice. It includes where what's left of the old circus arena. It could mean the end or it could open the door to rebuild it. Rezoning the property this week is expected to bring out a lot of ideas and new plans.

The zoning had called for public use like a park. City leaders say that was too limiting for the 65 acres which fronts U.S. 41. The land also includes the festival grounds and runs along the Intercoastal Waterway.

With the majority voting to approve the change Tuesday it can now be just about anything. From light industrial to a hotel.

It could challenge the group working to save what's left of the old circus arena. The Venice Circus Arts Foundation now wants to turn the steel structure into an open air arena with perhaps a canvas roof for now. "We are not giving up at all. We are trying to say we'll make it a pavilion and make it useful. The airport can rent it and get income," says Larry Ivey with the group.

Venice Mayor John Holic says it's too important a piece of land to do nothing. "It's the first thing you see when you come over the southern bridge. We really want it to have something Venice can be proud of."

Much of the land is controlled by the Venice Municipal Airport. They've said for years the land needs to bring in fair market value.

We will have much more on this story coming up this evening on ABC 7.