VIDEO: Lokey Building Demolition

The Lokey Building, one of the city's oldest structures, is being torn this week as part of plans to renovate the Capitol Theatre in downtown Clearwater.

The rafters snapped like match sticks. The painted white brick crumbled like a card house.

And the must of nearly 100 years filtered into the air along Clearwater's Cleveland Street as crews worked to demolish the Lokey Building, one of city's oldest structures, as part of renovation plans for the Capitol Theatre on Tuesday.

Osceola Avenue between Cleveland and Pierce streets is closed this week for the demolition of the Pat Lokey building, which has stood in downtown Clearwater for 98 years. The 1914 structure was originally going to be part of the Capitol's upcoming year-long renovation.

Plans included incorporating the building and converting it into a grand lobby, concession areas, and restrooms for the theatre, which would then be able to seat 655.

But officials decided it isn't sturdy enough to handle the load needed for a planned rooftop terrace, wraparound balcony and more to be added on top.

The Lokey building, named after a local businesswoman who owned a high-end women's clothing shop there through the 1990s, was originally home to the Clearwater Evening Sun newspaper.

The city designated the structure a historical landmark in 2009, the first by the city. When it was seen as an impediment to these construction efforts, leaders rescinded the designation earlier this year.

Leaders also vacated the alley behind the building. This will effectively close off the alley that connects Osceola and Fort Harrison avenues. It also increases the footprint of the land available for development.

Plans call for restoring and expanding the Mediterranean Revival look first featured in the building when it was built by Sen. John Taylor during the city's first boom in the 1920s. Movies ran throughout the week, and vaudeville performances were Friday night, according to an Oct. 28, 1921 edition of the St. Petersburg Times.

The Capitol became the Royalty Theatre in 1981. Patrons could buy tickets to see stage shows and musicals performed by local theatre groups.

The Taylor family held the lease on the theatre until they sold it in 1996. By 2008, the theater was facing foreclosure.

Clearwater designated both the theater and the adjacent Lokey building historic structures in 2009. Later in the year, Ruth Eckerd Hall purchased both buildings.

The movie house's original name was restored, and plans were announced to restore the theater.

But first city officials would have to remove the buildings’ historic designations. Which council members unanimously did in Sept. 2012.

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