Demolition permit approved for St. John Greek Orthodox Church

Matt Algarin
Newland remembers Cleo saying to Stella, 'Oh! isn't it beautiful!' and Stella saying 'but is it filled with the Holy Spirit?'

A demolition permit to raze St. John Greek Church has been applied for and approved.

Local businessman Mike Buckingham purchased the church, which was dedicated in 1984, and property for $330,000 in 2012 with plans to ultimately develop the property into a new business venture.

Last week Buckingham confirmed to The Log that he indeed planned to demolish the once family chapel to make room for a restaurant. Buckingham said he plans to build a 1,200-square foot concrete structure at the front of the property, in addition to about 14 parking spaces.

Former members say goodbye to St. Johns church

He said the decision didn't come lightly, but there were too many issues with the structure to move forward with preservation.

"It doesn't comply, that's simply the fact," he said during a recent interview. "There are so many things that are non-conforming, and I'm not able to purchase any property around me for additional parking."

Buckingham had told The Log that he would more than likely demolish the building in the next week or two, after letting family members come in and remove any items they would like. Other items such as the dedication plaque and stained glass windows were donated.

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A small service was held at the church Thursday afternoon for those who wanted to pay final respects to the building that was once home to the annual cross dive ceremony before it was moved to Saints Markella and Demetrios and Santa Rosa Sound.

Although the permit was approved, there are still some regulatory items that must be completed. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection must conduct an asbestos inspection before the church is demolished.

“The inspection and report is all handled by the owner or contractor, so the timeline is all based on their ability to get the inspection done and report written and then brought to the city,” said city planner Ken Gallander.