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Respondents to survey favor a coffee shop or community arts and exhibit facility

image of Waterworks Building insideOver 350 respondents heeded a call by the City of St. Augustine when the community was asked to provide input through an online survey on the preferred use of the Waterworks building according to a report presented to the city commission during its regular meeting on Monday, September 10.

The catalyst for the survey, taken through the month of July, was action by the City Commission on May 14 when it approved a grant application seeking funds to continue rehabilitation of the 120 year old building. As well as supporting the restoration of the Waterworks, the commission also looked to the future and wanted to know how the community envisioned future use of the building.  The presentation is available online here.

Respondents, nearly 64% which are St. Augustine residents, were asked which of six types of community venues would draw them to the Waterworks, and which of four commercial ventures might they envision for the historical structure.

Responding to the community venue question:

  • Community event venue         20.79%
  • Archaeological displays          19.94%
  • Music/theatrical performance 16.75%
  • Creative arts exhibit                10.67%
  • Special events/weddings           5:34%
  • Meeting hall                              5.06%
  • Other suggestions                    21.63%

Responding to the commercial venue question:

  • Coffee shop                              57.14%
  • Food truck/vendor                   29.87%
  • Souvenir shop                            9.52%
  • Convenience store                     3.46%

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Waterworks Building was built in 1898 as the pumping station for the city’s first water utility and remained in service until a new water plant opened in 1927 on W. King St. The site was then developed into Davenport Park and the building continued in use as the St. Augustine Little Theatre, the St. Augustine Arts Club, and finally as the St. Augustine Garden Club.

In 2005 the building was deemed unsafe when inspections reveled that mortar had been reduced to powder in some places threatening the stability of the brick walls that were carrying the load of a heavy truss system. The city began a diligent pursuit of historic preservation funding that would enable the restoration of the building that is ongoing.

The survey questions grew out of an open house held at the Waterworks in late May. Information with the survey called attention to certain characteristics that would have to be considered regardless of the use, including limited parking, all external renovations would have to be approved by the city, and the facility itself is subject to various historic preservation restrictions by both the State of Florida and the city.

The City Commission’s September 10 meeting is available for on-demand viewing at www.CityStAugTV.com.   View the presentation here.  For more information about the report, contact the City of St. Augustine General Services Department at 904.825.1010.