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VISTA —  The little building that housed a cobbler shop for nearly 60 years in downtown Vista is no more.

The single-story structure, at the corner of East Broadway and South Indiana Avenue, was torn down last month to make way for a building that will house some kind of restaurant.

Only a few artifacts remain: Among them, a small hexagon window that helped give the storefront its personality. The building was left vacant after Tom Fleming closed his One Day Shoe Repair and retired last year.

Real estate developer Lev Gershman snatched up the property hoping to save the structure, but it was too far gone. He is now nearing completion on a new 1,720-square-foot building, with work on the roof under way and interior plumbing, heating and air set to be finished in March.

Gershman said the site will be used as an eatery and that it will be customized on the inside after he finds a tenant. Roughly 10 potential tenants have approached him, he said.

The inside is malleable, but outside, the structure will boast the same mid-century modern charm as the little shoe repair shop, Gershman said.

He said he wants to continue the building’s history as “a place where people bump into each other.” He’s looking to build something “community centric,” with an outside patio for people-watching.

The site is a bit of a microcosm of Vista’s historic core — businesses are finding new life in spaces that still embrace the area’s quaint character.

That’s exactly what drew Gershman to buy the crumbling cobbler shop and purchase and revamp a two-story building on the same Broadway block. Last year, the developer moved his Tideline Partners headquarters from La Jolla into the site, where he also commissioned a mural.

As a college kid, Gershman, 38, used to work in The Adobe, a single-story office building next door to the Yellow Deli. About three years ago, he said, he drove through downtown with an eye toward potential real estate projects, and was “blown away by the momentum.”

Breweries, restaurants, eclectic shops and funky art now abound. Another bonus: The first leg of city’s long-desired revamp of South Santa Fe Avenue in downtown is nearing completion. Dubbed Paseo Santa Fe, a quarter-mile stretch should be done perhaps in the next month or so.

The idea behind the street remodel is to encourage people to park and walk through downtown, rather than skirt along the edge of it as they whiz by. To that end, the city is shrinking a stretch of Santa Fe Avenue from four to two lanes and adding a roundabout at Oceanview Drive, as well as wider sidewalks, street lamps, palm trees and a gateway arch.

The three-phase project will eventually extend from Main Street to Civic Center Drive.

Gershman is among the developers who see vitality in Vista’s long struggling but newly reborn historic core.

Kevin Ham, Vista’s director of economic development, said the city is working with a number of investors — including Gershman and developer Jay Wentz — who “really have a great vision for what Vista is becoming and what we can develop.”

Wentz, who revamped the Lafayette Hotel in North Park, recently made a deal to buy the long vacant corner of Vista Village and South Santa Fe Drive, a coveted spot seen as the gateway to downtown. No development plans have been turned into the city, but Wentz has pitched a four-story mixed use concept, with condos atop retail on the bottom floor.

The former shoe repair shop site is well on its way to its new incarnation, but even the construction includes a nod to the past.

Before the building was demolished, Gershman allowed local artists to take it over for a one-night popup show. They turned the shop’s front counter into what they dubbed an art box. That “box” sits in the middle of the construction site as a working draftsman table.

“This is an opportunity,” Gershman said, “to be a part of the future of downtown.”