By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
DELAND -- Silva's Antiques will likely become history.
The City Commission, in its March 4 meeting, agreed to a potential buyer's plan to demolish all or part of the two-story building at 428 S. Woodland Blvd.
"We're looking at trying to save part of the building by being strategic with the demolition." Robert Miller, the buyer, said in an interview after the meeting.
Mr. Miller said if that plan proves too expensive, he'd like to look into converting the property into a parking facility. The lot may be too small for that.
Under city ordinance, the commission must approve destruction of buildings 50 years or older. Silva's -- owned by Silva Parrillo -- was built around 1900. City staff opposed the proposed demolition, because Mr. Miller doesn't have definite plans for the property. A city report noted, "the building embodies many of the architectural characteristics of buildings constructed in DeLand during the Progressive Era of the early (20th century)."
No one spoke against the proposed demolition. Last summer, about 12 residents passionately opposed Stetson University's request to demo Stover Theatre, which was at 535 N. Florida Ave. The commission gave approval to destroy the 82-year-old theater.
Dale Arrington, assistant city manager, told the commission that Silva's is decrepit and would likely cost quite a bit to rehabilitate.
"It is not aesthetically pleasing," she said. "The lawn is overgrown and it hasn't been painted in I don't know how long."
Commissioner Leigh Matusick, who voted against the proposed demolition, said the city had some responsibility for conditions getting so poor.
"How and why did the property get to this point without the city doing something with code enforcement?" she challenged. Later, she added, "I have a hard time with that just because someone doesn't keep up the property, there's demolition."
Mr. Miller said he'd love to save the entire house, if it were feasible. At the meeting and in the later interview, he said Silva's has "bad bones." Among other problems, the building appears to have active termites. Plants have grown through walls and floors.
Previously Mr. Miller bought and restored 120 N. Alabama Ave., a home turned office built around the same time as Silva's. That property was famed for being the office of Dr. Mary Howarth, who died in 2010.
Additionally Mr. Miller bought and is restoring Mr. Lucky's, 413 S. Woodland Blvd. That building, he said, will become a health-food restaurant and fitness center.
Mr. Miller said he bought the South Woodland properties with plans tied to the incoming intermodal transportation facility.
The 3.5 acre, L-shaped transportation facility will be in the 400 block of South Woodland and reach around to the 100 block of East Euclid Avenue. The city owns the property. Votran, Volusia County's public transportation provider, is the only slated user. However, companies such as Greyhound might also use it. In 2016, the SunRail commuter train is supposed to reach the DeLand Amtrak Station at 2491 Old New York Ave., and the intermodal transportation center will have shuttles going to and from the station.
Construction on that facility is slated to start in coming weeks.
"With Sylva's, I see an end game," he said. "It's across the street from the transportation center. When people get off the bus, they don't want to see a building that's overgrown and looks abandoned, which it is."
Cheri Parrillo Gowan, the current owner's daughter, said she has fond memories of the building, but it needs to be demolished. She said her mother, who's turning 80, has owned Silva's for almost four decades. Ms. Gowan said her mother made enough money to help support the family and her father, Carl Parrillo, did what he could to maintain the building. Ms. Gowan said after he died in 2002, the old building quickly deteriorated.
"Honestly, there's no money to keep it up," she said. "(Antique sales is) not a business where you can save money. There was never any money to put back into the shop. My brother and father could always work on the shop."
Ms. Gowan said the family loves the building, and tried to come up with ways to keep at least part of it open, so her mother could continue doing what she loved -- meeting customers and selling antiques. The price tag, Ms. Gowan said, ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"It'll be a hard day when it comes down, especially for my mom," she said.
According to the Volusia County Property Appraiser's office, Silva's is worth about $62,000. Most of the value is for the property, not the building. Mr. Miller declined to say what he's proposing to pay for the property.