| Treasure Coast Newspapers
VERO BEACH — The city may change zoning to allow museums in the commercial district, and the first one already is being planned in the former Vero Beach Press Journal building.
Businessman Wayne Gould wants to create an auto museum in the former newspaper building at 1801 U.S. 1. He owns a similar museum, Wayne’s Toys, in Tucson, Arizona.
The Tucson museum is closed until November to prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19, according to its website.
“Think of it like an art museum, but the paintings aren’t hanging on the wall,” Gould told the city Planning and Zoning Commission last month. The facility would be an art museum, he said, “but the art has wheels.”
The museum would feature a private collection, but would include a commercial aspect, temporary exhibits and car displays, he said.
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Gould was unavailable for additional comment Thursday.
Commercial museums currently are not permitted in Vero Beach’s commercial district. The change was approved unanimously by the Planning and Zoning Commission last month, and was given preliminary approval Tuesday by the City Council.
The council is to give final consideration to the change Oct. 6, following a public hearing on the issue.
The building has been vacant since 2015, when Bill Summers bought the 3.75-acre property for $1.4 million. Summers, who had listed the property for $3.25 million, declined to say how much Gould is paying for land and building.
Summers expects the sale to close in October or November.
Over the years, developers have expressed interest in developing the site with a hotel, restaurants or offices. Last year, the property was under contract with a national grocery chain, but the deal fell through.
City officials said the museum would benefit the city.
“This is a great opportunity for an existing site on U.S. 1 that has sat undeveloped or unused for many years,” City Manager Monte Falls told the City Council Tuesday.
“Let’s move this thing along,” said Councilman Rey Neville. “I can’t wait to see this.”
Colleen Wixon is the Indian River County government watchdog reporter for TCPalm. She covers Indian River County and Vero Beach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (772) 978-2235. Follow her on Twitter @TCPalmWixon.
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