Nearly two years ago, a fire burnt down Lightnin’ Salvage Enterprises at Satchel’s Pizza in an hour, taking the playground outside down in its flames.
A grand reopening was held Friday to celebrate the rebuilding of Lightnin’ Salvage and a new playground built by UF students.
Inside, the now-concrete Lightnin’ Salvage has a larger stage, air conditioning, a light system and an upstairs break room for employees. Outside, there is a playground designed and built by seven students from the School of Architecture at UF.
The students mostly used repurposed items and different types of wood to fit the restaurant’s theme.
“We used slide lenses from projectors, spray painted PVC pipe and reused pieces of the playground that survived the fire,” said Elizabeth Cronin, co-instructor for the Summer Design/Build Studio at UF.
A red, metal train and an orange dome were sandblasted and repainted to make a reappearance. More elements for the playground are in the works.
Owner Satchel Raye said, “They are still working on a tunnel and an interactive space where you can play some instruments and things.”
The students don’t have a deadline for the final touches, but Raye said he will complete anything they don’t.
Francisca Ordonez’s daughter jumped from tree trunk to tree trunk in the playground during the reopening.
“She’s been coming here since she was 3, and now she’s 8,” said Ordonez, a lab manager UF. “We’ve been here through the whole transition.”
The architecture students have worked the project since May 28 and finished it 30 minutes before the grand reopening. Cronin said much of the project was redesigned on site when they realized some things didn’t work as planned.
Some students were given college credit for the project while others were volunteers. Raye treated them to pizza for their efforts.
Raye paid for the building materials. He said the students got a lot of experience out of the project.
“It is really good for the students not to just design things on paper but to get out and see how to put it together,” he said. “I mean, I don’t even think they knew how to use a post hole digger, and they did a lot of digging posts.”