Workers began demolishing Price Florist on Oak Ridge Turnpike on Saturday and could finish the job on Monday.
The work at the longtime floral business in central Oak Ridge is being done by Perkins Trucking and Excavating of Knoxville.
Tony Cappiello of Capiello Real Estate said one of his family’s companies purchased the 0.43-acre property about a month ago for $216,000. He said the seller agreed to demolish the property at her expense since it had been condemned by the City of Oak Ridge.
Cappiello said the property is about as large as the Subway down the street.
“So, whatever tenant eventually leases the property will presumably occupy about the same size building (1,800-2,000 square feet),” Cappiello said in a Sunday evening e-mail. “We are in negotiations with a number of tenants, but nothing has been finalized at this point.”
The Oak Ridge Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals had ordered the demolition of the building as recently as September, and members had considered whether to issue a demolition or repair order for the once-thriving business in several other meetings last year. They gave the previous owner, Patricia Warren of Crossville, several extensions to allow her time to come back with a sales contract, repair plan, or demolition permit.
During those board meetings, Warren said she had cleaned up the property and had hoped to sell it. She had told board members she had three potential buyers.
Warren sold the Price Florist business about four years ago but still owned the property. Earlier in 2013, she told board members she wasn’t aware of the poor conditions there. The city staff had said the building was in severe disrepair, citing fire code violations, a leaking roof, electrical hazards, plumbing issues, and broken concrete floors, among other things.
In June, the board declared the building a nuisance and unfit for human occupation or use.
Cappiello said Price Florist was an institution in Oak Ridge, and the various owners over the years have served the community for several generations.
“I was sorry to see it close last year,” Cappiello said. “I have sentimental attachment to old buildings and try to save them when I can. However, the building was in such disrepair, with the roof collapsing some time ago and water freely entering the building, there was really nothing to preserve.”
Price Florist was started by the Price family in the early 1950s, and Warren and her ex-husband bought it in the late 1970s.
Note: This story was updated at 10:45 p.m.