Frustration builds on Aviles Street as historic building threatens to fall

St. Augustine hopes for 'selective demolition' to begin Tuesday

By Ashley Harding - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Businesses in St. Augustine are taking a hit from the lack of traffic on Aviles Street.

The road has been closed to vehicle traffic for nearly a week as a crumbling historic building threatens to fall. It’s located right in the heart of old St. Augustine, just feet away from the Plaza de la Constitution.

Businesses and other building owners are getting more frustrated by the day, and they want answers. 

One business owner claims the pressure from the unstable building is pushing on to his building and he has cracks on the exterior and interior to prove it. As a business owner and contractor, Sean McMullen believes the cracks are signs of looming trouble.

"It's pulling the brick facade off,” said McMullen. “They have a real heavy roof, so it's pushing this whole building this way. The only thing holding this building up is my building."

It’s a safety issue he’s concerned about.

"All of our family is now sleeping on this side. All the children’s' rooms were on the other side. Our house is getting fixed in Vilano. It's kind of a double-edged sword for us," McMullen said.

He tells News4Jax he hasn't gotten answers from the city about what's happening.

Another local business also impacted by the road closure has even decided to use the building to help with advertising. It’s posted up their menu on the side of the building to let people know they’re just around the corner and are open to customers.

St. Augustine City Manager John Regan said he met with the Red Moon Properties, the property owner, and its architect on Monday and was planning to issue a Selective Demolition Permit.

Red Moon released a statement Tuesday morning:

“We appreciate that we had a very productive meeting with the city officials yesterday. We are continuing our goals toward HARB approved plans. The City has agreed to grant a full demo permit; however, they are in full support and in favor of a selective (surgical) demo approach as to save as much of the building as possible. We agree with them. Although the building has many years of rot and termite damage, it’s our goal to salvage what we can and keep the soul of the Spanish Mission style. Our immediate goals remain safety and getting the street back open. We are beginning the mobilization process after the permit is obtained."

The plan is to remove the roof so its weight is not compromising the building. From there, workers will try to stabilize the building's four walls so they can be evaluated to see how they can fit into a restoration.

Neighbors and business owners hope this is a solution that will work. 

The main goal is to have the road open to all traffic in about a week or so, said Regan.

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