By Jondi Gumz
The oldest building in Rio del Mar, built just steps away from the sandy beach, met the wrecking ball Monday.
The age of the building has been reported variously as 1925, 1928 and 1932.
Last known as the Seabreeze Tavern, the Spanish Revival-style building was declared unsafe after a blaze on a Sunday night June 14, 2020 — the cause was never determined.
With no roof, the walls of the building at 101 Esplanade were weakened, and engineer Chuck Voong concluded it was not salvageable. He recommended the county demolish the structure, and the county’s Historic Resources Commission concurred.
Rich McInnis was the last owner to operate the tavern but he had financial difficulties, filing for bankruptcy and falling behind on the property taxes.
Wedgewood, a housing developer that acquired the 3,870-square-foot lot with the fire-damaged structure, listed it for $799,900 and sold it in January for $1,212,000 to Omar Billawalla, an attorney in San Jose.
Paul Zech of Coldwell Banker, who represented the seller, said Billawalla doesn’t know yet what he’ll do with the property.
Attenpts to reach Billawalla were not successful.
The fenced-off vacant lot next to where the tavern operated is owned by the county.
The Seabreeze Tavern building being demolished. • Photo Credit: Kevin Painchaud