Former Santa Maria Restaurant building up for demolition | News

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Former Santa Maria Restaurant building up for demolition
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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The Santa Maria Restaurant in downtown St. Augustine may soon see the wrecking ball.

The Santa Maria Restaurant has been closed for months. The new owner is asking the City of St. Augustine for permission to tear it down and build another restaurant in its place.

Just across the street from the Santa Maria is the Wescott House Bed and Breakfast.

Ryan Mosher, assistant manager at the Wescott, and the inn's owner would be happy to have the old Santa Maria demolished.

"That's perfectly fine," Mosher said. "As long as they rebuild it in a way where it looks appealing to St. Augustine."

The Santa Maria sold in March for $2.3 million, according to city documents. The restaurant at the end of a pier, next to the Bridge of Lions, has welcomed guests for decades.

"I think it's cool. I think it has character," said Bryant Walrod, who was visiting St. Augustine Monday. "I'm sad to hear that. We've driven by many times and we've never gone inside."

Walrod and other visitors say they would hate to see it go.

The new owner also owns another restaurant in St. Augustine, O.C. Whites. He is asking to demolish the building in order to build one that looks very similar.

The current structure is in bad shape, according to city documents. A recent engineering inspection lists many features of the building in "good to failing" condition. The report says it would cost a hefty sum to bring the building up to current code.

Reports vary about when the building was constructed, but some city papers suggest it was between 1910 and 1917.

As for some businesses around town, such as the folks at the Wescott House, they are eager to see what could replace the old Santa Maria.

The architect and the owner wanted to hold off on an on-camera interview. The demolition issue was slated to come up before the city's Historic and Architectural Review Board this week. But that has changed. It could possibly be on the agenda at the end of this month or in November.


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