Now an apartment building, Ybor cigar factory retains historic feel

Soon you'll be able to live in one of Tampa's original cigar factories. It's now called Casa Oliva, at 19th Street and Palm Avenue in Ybor City. 

"You take a building that was built in 1888 and you bring it down to its core and you find the beauty in the building itself," explained Ariel Quintela, who has worked for three years to restore the building. 

Quintela says he expects studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments to be ready to lease in about 90 days. 

Showing off the renovations Monday, he explained how 1,200 cigar rollers worked in the factory around the turn of the century before air conditioning was invented. 

"You have about 176 windows that are 12 feet high by 3 feet wide, and that's what kept people cool in these buildings." 

Of course, the new Casa Oliva has air conditioning along with all modern conveniences, but it still has the windows, the light, and the high ceiling of a cigar factory. 

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"The upstairs is like living in an attic," continued Quintela. "You have those dormers and angles." 

The old factory is Ybor's latest to be updated. Other historic cigar factories have been converted to corporate offices or religious spaces.

This building will feature 38 apartments, 10 on the third floor. 

Quintela says rents will start as low at $1,050.00 for a studio apartment, to $1,700.00 for a premium two-bedroom.