Gregali claims he's received death threats, warning him not to demolish the building.Further complicating matters is that many in this south city community consider the Avalon a neighborhood landmark, a movie palace that seated nearly 650 when it was built in 1935. They are adamant that it be preserved, so much so that
Says Tsevis, "I don't care if [the city] tears it down. It'd be the best thing that ever happened to me."
In 1999, shortly after the theater closed, Gregali, as part of a neighborhood program, offered Tsevis and Moseley funds to partially renovate the building, which Tsevis declined. In the following years, the city responded to complaints from Southampton neighbors, including graffiti smeared on the theater walls and an abandoned vehicle in its parking lot.
In April 2006, says Oswald, the building department stepped in and slapped Tsevis with the first in a series of fines for building-code violations. Following a city building inspection one day in March, Tsevis was hit with thirteen violations, fined and summoned to appear in court. Tsevis failed to appear and now has a warrant out for his arrest, according to Oswald.
Despite the building's poor condition, Tsevis has listed the property at prices ranging from $1.2 million to his current estimate of $900,000. These numbers are sharply at odds with the city, who appraised its worth at approximately $340,000.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.