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Sarasota Monday, Jul. 18, 2016 5 years ago

City may demolish GWIZ building

Sarasota city commissioners have asked staff to explore razing the former Gulfcoast Wonder and Imagination Zone.
by: Alex Mahadevan News Innovation Editor

For the last three years, aside from homeless activity and Sarasota Police Department SWAT and K-9 training drills, the former GWIZ building on the Bayfront has sat empty.

Today, the Sarasota City Commission directed staff to estimate the cost of removing asbestos and demolishing the structure, for which the city has been paying roughly $40,000 annually to maintain. The price tag for demolition will range from $130,000 to $225,000, according to city Asset Manager Rob Schanley.

“Giving you an estimate on demolition is a big guesstimate,” Schanley told commissioners during today’s regular meeting. The city paid roughly $150,000 to demolish the old police station in 2012.

Since terminating its lease with Gulfcoast Wonder and Imagination Zone (GWIZ) in early 2014, the city has spent nearly $5,000 to board up the building following break-ins, $475 to repaint over graffiti and $1,150 for pest control, among other costs. 

If commissioners elect to move forward with demolition once staff returns with an estimate, they will then have to decide what to do with the land after the building is gone. 

“Unfortunately, I think this is becoming a white elephant in the community,” said Commissioner Suzanne Atwell.

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