WINTER HAVEN – Six/Ten partner Joe Bogdahn has released additional information about plans to renovate one of the last old downtown buildings that some describe as an eyesore.
City commissioners recently voted to sell the old Social Security building on Central Avenue next to the Ritz Theatre to Six/Ten for $210K. Commissioners William Twyford and Pete Chichetto voted in opposition to the deal with both saying the city may be able to get more money for the property.
Bogdahn said the city tried to sell the property on three separate dates and Six/Ten was the only bidder each time.
“The third time was the charm,” Bogdahn said.
One of the reasons why others may not have bid on the property is that the foundation is very old and the inside of the building will require lots of work, Bogdahn said. Demolition of the façade facing Central Avenue could begin as early as this week and construction could be finished as soon as the summer of 2019. Bogdahn said sometime in November, they would host an event giving residents a chance to see the inside of the building once it is safe.
Once built out, there will be two open areas separated by a 22-foot-high, 12 to 14-foot wide well-lit atrium, with lots of skylight windows connecting the parking garage and Central Avenue. The retail space will be divided as needed. Bogdahn said he is hoping a restaurant will be part of the finished product. On the back part of the property, there will be a patio area which could be used as a place restaurant customers could sit outside under shade and something Bogdahn called a “green room” that could be used by bands before hitting the stage at the Ritz Theatre, which has a back door near where the atrium connects to the parking garage.
Past work on old buildings nearby has resulted in structural damage to adjacent buildings. Bogdahn said extensive work is being done to prevent damage to the Ritz. Six/Ten owns a parking lot behind the nearby El Olivo Mexican Restaurant which would be used as a staging ground for construction materials, away from Central Avenue pedestrian traffic.