By Kevin Collison
Nicholas Abnos readily acknowledges he’s allowed a vacant five-story building at the prominent corner of 10th and Oak to fester for well over a decade.
He feels the same shame for the even longer time it’s taken to complete the redevelopment of the empty former Brandsmart building at 211 W. Gregory Blvd. in Waldo.
“I want people to know how embarrassed I am and how sorry I am I haven’t finished these projects,” the owner of Abdiana Properties said. “I’ve run into some rough patches.”
And now, he’s trying to make amends.
He wants to raise money to complete those projects by selling either the historic Firestone building he owns at 2001 Grand Blvd., or his Romanelli Shops retail property on the southwest corner of Gregory and Wornall.
The eight-story Firestone building with its elegant white terra cotta exterior was completed in 1915 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Abnos said he bought it more than 20 years ago when it was in rough condition.
Over the years, he’s used parts of it for a furniture business, including selling futons. Now its primarily used for events through a business called Urban Event and office space.
His Romanelli Shops retail property is doing well because of its location at a prominent corner in Waldo.
Abnos recently listed the Firestone building on the Ten-X Commercial auction site, a national firm specializing in large commercial properties. His minimum asking price was $9.2 million.
“Sometimes it’s good to get some national interest,” he said. “It expands the number of people you can reach.”
Last week’s auction however, only yielded a high bid of $7.9 million so he pulled the Firestone off the market.
Now, the Romanelli Shops property is listed on Ten-X for an auction scheduled for next week. The 27,000 square-foot retail complex opened in 1926.
Abnos said he intends to sell only one of the two properties to raise money for continuing his redevelopment plans at 10th and Oak, and 211 W. Gregory.
His idea for the downtown property, which is across the street from Ilus W. Davis Park and only a block from City Hall, is to redevelop it as a boutique hotel.
“You’ll be proud of me for that building, it’ll be the nicest building you’ve ever seen,” Abnos said. “I feel bad and it sickens me I’ve left it the way I did.”