$1 million proposal for future fire station goes before city Thursday


Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 6:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 6:24 p.m.

The $1 million purchase of a city block in a blooming arts district along South Main Street as a site for a future fire station goes Thursday to the Gainesville City Commission.

The city is eyeing two properties totaling roughly 1.5 acres that stretch from South Main Street to Southeast First Street and Southeast Fifth Avenue to Southeast Sixth Avenue.

The plan is to start construction at the end of 2014 and open a new station in 2016 to replace the 50-year-old station a short distance to the north on South Main, Fire Chief Gene Prince said.

The proposal surfaced several months back and caused concerns that a recent rejuvenation along South Main spurred by the Civic Media Center and the Citizens Co-op might falter.

Along with 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 and the Civic Media Center.

Prince said the city will give the tenants until December 2014 to stay rent-free. The city also plans on-street parking on side streets to South Main to make up for the lost spaces.

Repurpose Project co-founder Mike Myers said the nonprofit, which resells or makes art and jewelry of discarded items that include everything from yarn to trophies to tile, plans to launch a fundraising campaign to buy a new building.

“What can we do except accept what’s going on?” Myers said. “I think it’s just a bump in the road. The silver lining is in the cloud. We’re going to find a bigger, better place.”

The block that the city plans to buy is divided into two parcels with two separate owners: Peter Theoktisto, the owner of Everyman Sound Company, and David Mathia, who owns the parcel with the Repurpose Project, The Church of Holy Colors and the parking area.

Each property has an appraised value of $485,000. The city’s agreement would pay each property owner $525,000, or 8.25 percent above the appraised value. The city is paying above appraised value because Theoktisto will have to purchase a property to relocate, and Mathia will be giving up rental income from his property, where the Repurpose Project had a lease through December 2016.

Prince said the city needs a larger, more modern station to serve the downtown area, particularly in light of the more than 5 million square feet of development, including six- to eight-story buildings, planned in Innovation Square.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top