Crumbling building forces street in St. Augustine historic district closed

Avilés Street shop owner says it's unfortunate for visitors, hurts business

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor, Chris Parenteau - Reporter, Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Avilés Street in St. Augustine's historic district is open for pedestrian traffic only until further notice because of concerns about an unstable building, the city's police department announced Wednesday.

Cecilia Aiple, with St. Augustine Police Department, said a trolley train operator called after seeing damage done to a building at 9 Avilés Street on Wednesday morning. A sergeant sent to investigate agreed there was a safety concern and shut down the road to traffic between King and Cadiz streets. Pedestrians can still pass on the street.

"In an abundance of caution for public safety and given the nature of Aviles Street, a single lane, narrow street and the route of sightseeing vehicles, the street was closed to vehicular traffic until evaluations can be made by structural engineers as to the safety of the building," city spokeswoman Melissa Wissell said in a statement released Thursday morning. "These evaluations are currently underway."

Aviles was closed to vehicles as crowds descend on the city for Fourth of July entertainment and fireworks.

 "We haven't had the people walking through that normally would be here," said MaryRose LaCavera, owner of Piece Pie -- across the street from the crumbling building. "It's sad that they don't get to experience it. Its the oldest street in America, too."

Hers and other businesses in the area say it's a problem.

"It has definitely impacted our business," she said. "Unfortunately, we are down about 33 percent at this time."

The unstable building is currently unoccupied. One resident told News4Jax has been under renovation for months. St. Johns County property records show it sold last December to Red Moon Properties for $490,000.

According to St. Augustine police, the owner of the building said they will apply for a demolition permit Thursday morning.

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