City mulls paying $1 million for future fire station site
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 5:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 5:37 p.m.
Gainesville is eyeing the $1 million purchase of a city block on South Main Street as the future site of its downtown fire station.
The City Commission is scheduled to vote Thursday on contracts to buy two developed parcels that make up the block.
The properties total roughly 1.5 acres and stretch from South Main Street to Southeast First Street and Southeast Fifth Avenue to Southeast Sixth Avenue.
Right now, Everyman Sound Company; the Repurpose Project, a nonprofit art gallery and “trash to treasure” shop; and The Church of Holy Colors art and music space occupy the block. The site is also the parking area for the Citizens Co-op, the Civic Media Center and other tenants in a burgeoning arts district along South Main.
Members of that community have expressed concern that the relocation of the Repurpose Project and The Church of Holy Colors, and the loss of the parking area many tenants rely on, would mean a step backward for the ongoing revival along South Main.
Chris Fillie, who owns the renovated storefronts that house the Citizens Co-op and the Civic Media Center, said the city has been receptive to the concerns.
“I feel very confident that the city is going to do everything they can to provide parking for the area,” Fillie said.
One option under consideration is the addition of angled, on-street parking along Southeast Fifth Avenue.
Under the terms of the proposed contracts, the city will pay above the appraised value for each parcel and a combined total of $1.045 million.
An appraisal report valued each property at $485,000, said Sam Bridges, the city’s land rights coordinator.
The purchase agreement going to the City Commission would pay Peter Theoktisto, the owner of Everyman Sound Company and the land the business stands on, $515,000. David Mathia, who owns the parcel with the Repurpose Project, The Church of Holy Colors and the parking area for other tenants in the arts district, would receive $530,000.
Bridges said the price negotiated with Theoktisto took into account that he would have to buy land somewhere else to relocate his business. The proposed contract with Mathia has a down payment of $125,000, with the city paying the balance by Oct. 30, 2014, Bridges said. In exchange for Mathia waiting more than a year to receive full payment, the city’s proposed purchase price includes interest on that balance, Bridges said.
Fire Chief Gene Prince said the Repurpose Project and The Church of Holy Colors will have until the end of September 2014 to relocate.
Evan Galbicka, the co-founder of The Church of Holy Colors, said he might relocate from the brightly colored yellow, peach, purple, blue and aqua former church building to the converted warehouse in southeast Gainesville that houses local music label and studio Elestial Sounds. Mike Myers, with the Repurpose Project, said the city is working with his nonprofit to identify potential sites.
Myers, who sells art and jewelry made from items that might otherwise be thrown out, said he is interested in salvaging as much wood and construction materials as possible before the buildings housing The Church of Holy Colors and the Repurpose Project are demolished.
The city’s current fire station on the 400 block of South Main is more than 50 years old. Prince said the department needs a larger, modern building to accommodate the growth of the next 50 years, including the 5.5 million square feet of floor space planned in Innovation Square.
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