Hamilton Building

With the Hamilton Building no longer needed as a temporary library and no foreseeable city use that wouldn’t cost a lot of money, the Venice City Council will vote next week on selling it to Venice Theatre, seen at left.

Barely a month after announcing it had hired a broker to sell the Hamilton Building, the city has a buyer.

The Venice City Council will vote on a contract Tuesday to sell the building at 245 North Tamiami Trail to Venice Theatre for $1.1 million. It had been valued at $1 million, the price the city paid in 2015.

The theater also owns the former ABC Liquor building between the Hamilton Building and the theater building. It was acquired after the KMI Bridge was raised and widened, reducing access to the property nearly 20 years ago.

The city bought the Hamilton Building, a set of seven office condos, as a potential site for a parking lot or perhaps a parking garage. In the meantime, the county approached the city about using the building as a temporary library while a replacement for the Venice Public Library was being built.

By the time the new library opened in December the city had added several hundred parking spaces around downtown, reducing the likelihood the property would be used for that.

The city staff considered other possible uses before concluding that a sale or lease made the most sense.

There’s a plan to expand City Hall in conjunction with the construction of a replacement for adjacent Fire Station 1, so there’s no need to convert the temporary library back into offices.

The Venice Museum & Archives could use the space but start-up costs for a museum annex were estimated at about $750,000, with annual costs of $140,000.

A couple of Council members preferred a lease to a sale, to create a revenue stream, but then the city would still have maintenance and repair responsibilities. Their colleagues were open to either possibility but leaned toward a sale, agreeing with Vice Mayor Rich Cautero, who said the building isn’t a “core government asset.”

The contract requires that Venice Theatre agree to easements providing access to the city-owned building to the north, where Venice Area Beautification Inc. has its office; emergency fire access under the bridge to the Waterfront condominiums on the east side of Business 41; and access to the Venetian Waterway Park on the west side, which overlaps the eastern boundary of the property.

According to the contract, the theater will pay $110,000 in cash for the building and finance the remainder of the purchase price.

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