After years of controversy and legal wrangling, the former Overseas Liquor & Lounge building in Marathon is finally taking a step in a positive direction.
Call it addition by subtraction, as new owner Tim O'Connell has spent the past couple weeks tearing down dilapidated trailers and wooden cottages that sat adjacent to and behind the iconic U.S. 1 property near mile marker 49.
Plans for the property include a family-friendly restaurant with gift shops, an ice cream stand, indoor and outdoor seating, and tree houses for kids to play in outside. He also plans to reopen the package liquor store.
O'Connell secured demolition permits from the city on Oct. 9 and a permit to put a new roof on the building on Oct. 16. Workers were on the job this week.
"We got rid of three trailers, which was basically five units. There were two wooden structures we had to pull out because they were not made out of Dade County pine, so the termites had destroyed them," he said.
Two of the five trailers were separated into two units, while each wooden cottage had two one-bedroom efficiency apartments.
Outside of the main building, the property is now clear and O'Connell also had workers remove some excess vegetation. Work began this week on a new metal roof. O'Connell was complimentary of the city for expediting the permit process.
"We got our roof permit in an hour," he said. "Next we'll apply for the demo permit inside that'll allow us to pull the ceilings and walls down."
To that end, O'Connell said he's had environmental testing done on the inside of the building as required by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
"We're ready to pull the ceilings down once we get the permit. Then we can go back to the architects and find out what we should put where," he said. "Once we get started, it'll go pretty quick there."
The property made headlines in recent years as the estate of former owner Joseph Ardolino and the city battled in court over whether the right to operate the package store expired after it closed in 2008.