A beloved Gainesville co-op is moving locations downtown, local creators reflect on how it started

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Local creators like jewelry makers, musicians, fashion designers, vintage clothes thrifters and food vendors gathered at the Bazar Á La Carte market earlier this month to showcase their artistic designs. 

On Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, the weekend market doubled the size of its vendors, food and music to commemorate its last time at the historic Seagle Building building, located at 408 W. University Ave.

The How Bazar is a worker- and artist-owned company made up of five people who have been working together on smaller projects for years. The Seagle Building was their first official location for the business, which they began renting in August 2020. The co-owners said they always knew the location would be temporary but were excited to have their time in the building.

 

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“The Seagle Building itself is very iconic and historic to Gainesville. A lot of people don’t recognize the name right off the bat but after you describe it, I’ve noticed a lot of people are like ‘Oh wow! I’ve always wondered what goes on there,’” Laila Fakhoury, 23, one of the co-workers and owners of The How Bazar said. 

She said she likes how mysterious the Seagle Building is. According to Fakhoury, not many people know the building’s history but recognize the space. 

The Seagle Building is a Gainesville landmark because the project began during the Florida Land Boom of the 1920s, a period of rapid growth in Florida’s real estate. The building also experienced 45 years of public ownership and is associated with two architects J. Lloyd Preacher and Rudolph Weaver. To this day, the Seagle Building is the tallest structure in Gainesville.

The Seagle Building was originally slated to be a hotel; however, the project was abandoned before completion. In the mid-1930s, Georgia Seagle, an entrepreneur, along with the University of Florida and the City of Gainesville completed the project.

After completion, the building mostly served UF, housing the university’s museum and administration. However, the building struggled to maintain modern safety codes, like fire safety, which led to most tenants leaving. The Florida State Museum was the building’s only inhabitant by the late 1960s until the museum relocated to UF’s campus and renamed itself to the Florida Museum of Natural History. After the museum moved, the Seagle Building found itself abandoned once again.

The building was sold to a Kentucky developing company during the early 1980s with an agreement that the building needs to be modernized and up to date with safety codes.

Today, the building stands completely renovated with the bottom six floors designated for commercial use. The remaining five floors are residential units.

Fakhoury said the space is generally quiet because of the mix of commercial and residential occupants. 

“We really like to liven up the place,” she said. “Our business brings new people, vendors and the art community to the Seagle Building.”

José Peruyero, 39, a co-worker and owner of The How Bazar, said one reason the market must switch locations is because the current owner has plans to sell the building.

“We came to the building knowing it would be temporary,” he said. “However, we did consider expanding to another part of the Seagle Building and outdoor space, but because it’s being sold we weren’t able to have those negotiations.”

Now, the co-owners and workers are looking for a permanent, larger location than the Seagle Building to plant their business long-term. Peruyero said more space is important so the market can better serve Gainesville’s artistic community.

“We really want to expand our events to a larger area where we can have extra inventory space, local vendors selling their items regularly and more unique events like music shows in addition to outdoor markets,” Peruyero said.

The How Bazar is currently eyeing a location in downtown Gainesville but has faced some difficulties obtaining this space. In an Instagram post from August, The How Bazar said there’s a possibility a large developer is going to destroy the businesses deal with the city because they want the same space to use as a temporary leasing office.

 

 

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Fakhoury said the co-owners’ and workers’ names are currently on the lease for a new location inside of the Southwest Parking Garage in downtown Gainesville. The How Bazar must wait for the city commissioner meeting on Oct. 21 to get the lease signed by the city and make the new location official.

Co-owner Holly McCoy, 29, said she has mixed emotions about moving locations.

“Moving to a new space is very exciting but when I sit back and think about leaving the Seagle Building, it’s very hard,” McCoy said, “It’s a very intimate space where we’ve built great relationships with members of the community. Some people have vocalized to us that they will also miss the building. It’s bittersweet.”

Ryan Ackridge, 39, another co-owner of The How Bazar, said he is going to miss hosting events at the Seagle Building.

“The Seagle Building feels like our original home,” he said. “When we leave it’s going to be like a kid moving out of their parent’s house and going off to college or getting a new job. I’ll always have a piece of my heart here.”

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