EDGEWATER — The vacant purple building on Ridge Avenue, rumored to be a former venue for Charlie Chaplin, is going up for auction.
Since 2007, owner Rosario Rosi had spent about $2.2 million to restore the crumbling building at 5757 N. Ridge Ave. into a community attraction and event venue, as well as a gallery and workshop for his sculptures.
He replaced the failing roof, reinforced the unstable brick facade facing Ridge Avenue, installed ambient heating and concrete floors, began construction of a glass staircase and rehabbed a rickety, car-sized elevator formerly used by auto mechanics.
But after the recession, he ran out of money.
"It breaks my heart that we can’t finish it," he said of the building, rumored to have once hosted a performance by Charlie Chaplin. "I’ve got my heart and soul and a lot of blood in that building actually."
The building had been listed for sale — at $1.5 million.
Rosi said the building nearly sold twice in the past year, including to a couple wanting to finish construction and live there.
"Everybody had these fantastic dreams, but when it came down to it, the contracts fell through," he said. "We were basically running out of time."
His bank pressured him to sell, Rosi said, so the property will go up for auction on May 28.
Now the Andersonville sculptor said he'll focus on his artwork.
"I met a lot of wonderful people along the way," he said. "It is what it is — essentially I’m back at work at my studio, focusing on work."