After a failed preservation campaign, crews have begun to knock down the structure as part of a bayfront redevelopment project.
Crews have begun to demolish the former GWIZ building at 1001 Boulevard of the Arts, an initial step toward the construction of a public bayfront park near downtown Sarasota.
The structure sits on a portion of the land targeted for the first phase of the city’s master plan for redeveloping more than 50 acres of land surrounding the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The city is working with a private nonprofit, The Bay Park Conservancy, on the park project.
Since December, a pair of resident-initiated challenges sought to overturn the city’s approval of the demolition permit. A group of preservationists have fought against the planned demolition, arguing the structure carried architectural and historic significance for the community. The building was originally constructed in 1976 as the Selby Library.
During the appeal hearings, representatives for the city and The Bay said the building was deteriorating and that the public was more interested in creating more green space than preserving the structure. Both the Planning Board and City Commission upheld the demolition order.
As of Friday morning, a segment of the east side of the building had been knocked down.