With the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce moving into a new facility, the first floor of the historic Fayette County Courthouse is seeking new tenants to fill the space. Fortunately, there are quite a few interested parties, as the county commission discovered at its Wednesday workshop meeting.
The courthouse is leased from the county by the Fayette County Development Authority. Within the terms of the contract, the FCDA is able to sub-lease the additional space within the facility with the income being provided to the county.
The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce had occupied the first floor of the facility since 1997 and reportedly generated income to the county in excess of $20,000 per year in rental fees. The Chamber’s recent decision to move to another facility effective January 1, 2013 will leave that first floor untenanted, though it has generated a bit of interest from local organizations.
“There’s been a lot of interest in renting the place,” said interim county administrator Jack Krakeel. “The Main Street program, the Historical Society and members of the arts community. From a staff perspective, that space may be a good fit for the extension service.”
Only the Main Street Program has offered remuneration, in the amount of $500 a month.
“It’s essentially an office operation, with three staff members,” said Matt Forshee, CEO of the FCDA. Since the Chamber vacated the bottom floor we keep the main doors locked because we’re on the second floor. There are a large number of walk-ins. Our concern is that we have a similar use, an office occupation with someone downstairs at the same time we’re upstairs. Someone in the same realm. We were very symbiotic in our relationship with the Chamber.”
Forshee said there was a preference for someone like the Main Street program.
“It’s a compatible use from that standpoint. If the commission isn’t comfortable making a determination now, allow us some time to evaluate other entities and provide you our feedback for compatible usages.”
Brian Wismer, the Fayetteville Main Street Program and Downtown Development Authority, coordinator has already approached the county with the possibility of renting the facility.
“In addition to the Main Street Program we also represent the Downtown Development Authority. We create some synergy with the FCDA. We’re very used to accommodating visitors, since we operate the Welcome Center at The Depot.”
There is also the possibility of renting out the third floor of the chamber for events, for added income.
“When the Chamber was in the space, the only events were development authority or Chamber sponsored events.”
“I think the Downtown Development Authority would be a perfect fit for the location. I can see the connection with the missions all aligned.”
Commissioner Lee Hearn leaned towards the space being used for the extension service.
“Anytime we can manage to find space and not spend money is good. The Extension office has staff that could use that area. I’d like to see that explored.”
The commission voted to explore more possibilities before making a decision.