A cleanup effort took place at one of Sanford’s worst eyesores this week, giving momentum to the possibility that revitalization might expand from downtown to blighted properties in other parts of the city.
The old Koury Building on Chatham Street was subject to a a multi-day cleanup in what city officials told the Rant was preparation for an environmental study aimed at preparing the building for a potential sale. The building remains in significant disrepair, but doors and windows that had previously stood open are now boarded over, and growth of trees and bushes adjacent to the structure has been trimmed back or removed altogether.
“There needs to be a study to determine if there’s anything harmful in the ground before the property can be sold, and what we were told is the growth and debris around the site was so bad that they couldn’t do the study the way they needed to,” Sanford Mayor Chet Mann said on Friday.
Lee County GIS records indicate the 168,000 square foot structure, formerly the home to a major textile manufacturer, has been owned by Florida-based R. Scott Page since 2015. At one point in the mid-2000s, it had been considered as a site for new county offices, but that plan never came to fruition. It has since been the subject of numerous complaints in recent years due to its state of disrepair and use as location for criminal activity.
If the building is eventually sold and revitalized, it would be the third historic structure on Chatham Street to undergo such an effort in recent years. The old Buggy Factory several blocks to the northwest of the Koury Building was rededicated for use as city, county and private office space in 2016, and the Lutterloh building at Chatham and McIver streets began renovations in October, after which it will be home to a mix of residential and retail spaces.
Take a look at the building as it appears today, as well as some Google Maps screen captures showing how the property appeared earlier this year: