Gainesville Localities Plan Impending Move; Fire Station Draws Plans

By on April 16th, 2014
Mike Myers

Sean Stewart-Muniz / WUFT News

Mike Myers works on art student Emily Bonani's project, screwing a board between two wooden structures to stabilize them.

Eight months after Gainesville’s City Commission purchased occupied land on South Main Street, the area’s three tenants remain unsure of where they’ll be moving.

The Repurpose Project, Church of Holy Colors and Everyman Sound Company occupy the 1.5 acres of land and have been given until December 2014 to move.

The land was purchased to build a new fire station, which will replace the current one built in 1962 at 427 S. Main St., Jeff Lane, fire rescue district Chief Jeff Lane said.

“It’s exceeded its lifetime,” Lane said. “The building itself has become susceptible to age, isn’t energy efficient and doesn’t fit our needs best.”

He said the city commission was looking at multiple properites with large, open mouth access to main roads and enough size to fit the station.

Potential land prospects that had development conflicts or tenants unwilling to sell were dismissed, and the 500 block of South Main Street became the most viable option.

Evan Galbicka, the 27-year-old co-founder of the Church of Holy Colors, isn’t a fan of what’s going to be done to the property.

“I’m a little pissed off just because they’re going to bulldoze this whole lot,” Galbicka, said. “It curtails the expansion of an art culture in this area.”

While the city begins planning its new fire station, Galbicka said the art gallery is looking into its own construction project – moving their entire building.

If the gallery can raise about $20,000, they can uproot their structure and put it back together on a new property, Galbicka said.

“We got a good thing going on this block,” he said. “Main Street Gainesville is the best part of town.”

Down the block from the gallery is the Repurpose Project, a non-profit that accepts items like loose wood, screws, lamps, furniture, kitchen sinks and other unwanted pieces to sell using a name-your-price system.

Mike Myers, the 67-year-old co-founder of the Repurpose Project, said his lease states he has until October to move to a new location. This includes everything in his 3,000-square-foot property, which is overflowing with recycled items that were once headed for a landfill.

Now, he’s looking for a new property of about 12,000 square feet to house the project, and that will only last him a few years before he needs to grow again.

“It’s still a struggle,” he said. “But what’s life without a little struggle?”

Chris Fillie, the founder of Vibrant Community Development Inc., subleased the current space to the Repurpose Project.

Fillie had a 5-year lease with the owner of the parcel that the art gallery and the Repurpose Project are situated on. But when the city offered the owner more than half a million dollars for the property two years later, the property owner gave Fillie an ultimatum.

If he could pay 20 percent of the $500,000 up front, the owner would allow Fillie to stay on the property.

If he failed to raise the cash, Fillie would have to either move the project or the owner wouldn’t renew the yearly lease for the property’s parking lot, which the gallery uses as well.

Without a parking lot, not only would the art gallery succumb to the limited parking space, but the Citizen’s Co-op and the Civic Media Center — one block up the street — would, too.

He couldn’t raise the money in time. Now, he’s helping the Church of Holy Colors look for a new home in Gainesville.

“I really think everybody did the best that they can,” Fillie said. “This is the most complicated thing I’ve ever dealt with.”


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