The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce is starting the process of moving to a new location downtown and putting its current home up for sale.
The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce has long stood as a welcoming beacon on the corner of Evers and Reynolds streets.
The two-story building, which is approximately 12,000 square feet, is a massive chunk of real estate and the chamber has mostly utilized only the bottom floor over the years. The upper rooms have been used as pseudo-storage areas, though most remain empty.
There’s been a recent shift at the chamber as it has continued to focus increasingly more on acting as a strong resource for businesses in the community. During the pandemic, the chamber stepped up to the plate and became a one-stop-shop where businesses could get the latest updates on policies, regulations and funding. President Christine Miller said it was time for a change that externally reflected all of the evolution that has blossomed internally over the last several years.
“We formed a committee several months ago that took the time to really look at all of our options,” Miller said. “It was time for a refresh and, really, it all came down to the fact that this space is just too large for this organization and its staff. It can be put to a better use by someone else and with the focus on Evers Street, well, I just have such a vision for who could potentially come in and make this space into something special.”
Years ago, the chamber’s foundation bought the building. They looked ahead and knew it would put the chamber in the best spot going forward. Courtney Paat was appointed as chair of the Building Committee and Miller, along with the chamber’s current Chairman of the Board Mike Arndt, Arley Smude, Wesley Joyner and Chuck Gore, served on the committee. They looked at renovating the building and staying, renting out the upper portion and, of course, selling and relocating. Paat said it’s important to the entire board that the chamber remains downtown, so even though the group ultimately decided to sell, it has every intention of relocating somewhere that will remain in walking distance to anywhere in the downtown core.
“This is the right financial move for the Chamber,” Paat said. “Staying here and maintaining a 12,000 square-foot building when our purpose as an organization doesn’t require this much space is simply not a wise use of our resources. Moving in a different direction with the space was critical to make sure we were being responsible with the chamber’s finances. Ultimately the chamber is giving this building back to the downtown community so it can be repurposed for what is happening downtown.”
Arndt said the chamber has always been financially sound and wants to take advantage of its unique position to further advance its purpose in the community. He said the chamber has endless options available now, so it would take the sale very seriously and not be “jumping on the first offer they get.”
“I’m very excited about this move,” Arndt said. “I’m so proud of the chamber and I want to be proud of our space. I think that the past boards and chairmen who have had the vision for this building have set us up for success. I don’t use the word ‘excited’ much, but that’s exactly how I feel.”
The board voted to go ahead with the sale last week and Miller said it will likely be listed by the end of the week via Ace Realty. An appraisal was done for the entire building and it is set to be listed at $825,000.
“These are definitely exciting times to be in downtown Plant City and I am looking forward to how this whole process unfolds,” Gore said. “Being a part of the committee to review and recommend the sale of the current home of the chamber has been a very humbling role for me. As we looked at our options and towards the future of both Plant City and the chamber, I felt it was important to look long-term and not just set the chamber up for right now, but for the long haul. As the committee concluded its work and made its recommendations, I believe that we achieved that goal and have placed ourselves in a place to be solvent and viable for years to come.”
Joyner and Smude agreed and said the choice to sell and relocate was an opportunity that they simply couldn’t pass on. Smude called the decision a “win-win” and said that he was hopeful whoever buys the building will continue the “incredible momentum we’re seeing on Evers Street.”
Joyner pointed to his long roots in Plant City — he’s a sixth-generation Plant Citian — and said to make Plant City a viable option for his children and grandchildren, they must develop the amenities that the current and future generations are looking for. He believes Plant City is headed in that direction and said he will “work tirelessly” as a board member to assist the chamber in “keeping the ball rolling while always keeping our small-town charm at the forefront.”
Though the decision has just been announced, there is already keen interest in the property. As the entire committee noted, the building is in a coveted location on Evers Street and is sure to draw in some exciting ventures.
“This is a very smart move for the chamber,” Miller said. “It will make the most use of the dollars we have at our disposal. For years we have had a significant amount of money invested in this building and now we can use that money to further expand the chamber and what it is able to do for the community. I don’t know if I’ll be in this role for 20 years, but I know I’ll be in this community and I want to be able to look back and say that I financially left this organization in a great place. We don’t take for granted how lucky we are. Not all chambers are as financially sound as we are and we want to make sure we continue to do what is best not just for us and our members, but for the entire community.”