the flog

From the Ashes

Historic house gets new lease on life

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A building strengthened with love begins its reconstruction after being scorched in a St. Augustine arson spree in 2014.

Located at 45 Cordova St., in the Ancient City's historic downtown district, the house was built by the Cooley family in 1890. Architect Jerry Dixon purchased the property in 1989. He said he rented part of the first floor, based his business out of the building, and even lived in it. Dixon formed a bond with 45 Cordova over the 20 years he spent as its owner.

On June 23, 2014, according to St. Johns County Fire Rescue, 45 Cordova was the first of multiple locations at which fires were reported. The majority of the Dixon Design Group’s headquarters was burned down.

"I'll never forget that day," Disxon said. "It was just after 3:00 in the morning when my phone rang. Thank goodness, at the time, I was not there. My home and my plans were torched."

Due to the destruction of the property, Dixon decided to put it up for sale. His love for the building never dwindled, even after the fires did, but he knew it would be a tall task to restore. He figured the building was damaged goods to any potential buyer.

Local real estate agent Karen Vander, however, saw the property as an easy sell. She was able to sell the property within 50 days to Bruce Maguire's Maguire Land Corp.

“Jerry is a well-known architect," Vander said. "He had all the designs drafted and had approval [...] for the exterior he wanted to construct.”

Dixon also had a permit for the rebuild. He helped make the property as appealing as possible. Vander said the downtown St. Augustine area is in high demand. Retail businesses and restaurants clamor for the chance to set up shop in the area. This fact made 45 Cordova even more attractive to buyers.

“There is a high demand for downtown property because there is a limited supply,” Vander said. “Cost of entry is high as well.”

The current owner Bruce Maguire said the area is perfect for business because of the large amount of people who frequent the area. He plans on installing two bed-and-breakfast units upstairs, and tentatively projects a retail store on the ground floor.

“Really it all depends on the market.” Maguire said.

If, for instance, a restaurant comes with a good offer, Maguire said he wont turn it down.

He plans to have the building renovated and fully operational as soon as possible.

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