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Commuters passing along Washington Street in Haymarket may have noticed during the last month some major changes to two historic buildings located on the Town Center property.
Haymarket wrapping up construction on historic building
© Gainesville TimesCommuters passing along Washington Street in Haymarket may have noticed during the last month some major changes to two historic buildings located on the Town Center property.
What is significant about the renovations to the Hulfish House and the Old Post Office is that taxpayers footed the bill for both properties to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Even though the intent of the restoration projects was to preserve the buildings, there is one noticeable return on the $175,000 shelled out by the town on the Hulfish House.
A privately owned consignment shop for women's clothing opened up at the house during the last month.
The Very Thing for Her, which is an offshoot of the boutique consignment store The Very Thing located next door at the eastern end of Town Hall, takes up both levels, upstairs and downstairs.
Describing the location of a house as a "classy" location for an "upscale" store, sales representative Kimberly Dewey explained that location played a big factor in the shop opening up.
"We definitely like the idea of having it right here," she said on Sunday afternoon.
Construction costs for the building itself actually exceeded the $150,000 the Town Council set aside for renovation.
"It just turned out that Hulfish needed much more work than we initially thought," said Swearingen. "We pretty much had to gut the building and start over again."
Meanwhile, construction remains ongoing for the Old Post Office, commonly referred to as the "Red Rooster".
The town manager pointed out that there is still a little over $40,000 left to paid on the Old Post Office from its adjusted $175,000 budget.
"We are spending that as the work gets completed, so I'm hoping that work would be completed by the end of the month," said Swearingen.
Remaining construction and installation projects for the house include installing interior walls, electrical power, heating and air conditioning among other items.
As of last week, no prospective tenants made any offers to the town to lease out the building.
The black, front doors still showed signs of decay and damage on Sunday.
Rust lines the mail drop slot, key hole and door handle while the black paint appeared warped, cracked and chipped.
That would suggest at least some exterior work remains too, at least for that one particular portion of the building. The rest of the exterior is painted.
Former vice mayor John Cole once remarked years ago during a town council meeting that the town government did not make a good landlord, a sentiment shared by Swearingen.
"It probably still is true," he said. "It's a big job to keep this much rental property rented and leased."
At $26 per square foot, rental space at the properties is on the upper end of local commercial property values.
Back in March, Swearingen wrote to the mayor and town council that market data "for the past 12 months in the Haymarket/Gainesville area" for commercial space ranged from $18 per square foot to $28 per square foot.
Though Dewey acknowledged that the rental rate is "high" when leasing from the town government, the location of the building is a primary asset for the business.
Nine parking spaces are laid out on the paved portion of the parking lot between both consignment stores, including one handicap spot.
Such a set up and short distance between the Town Hall and the Hulfish House allows shoppers move quickly between both stores while still being in walking distance of other small businesses near the intersection of Washington Street and Jefferson Street.
"I think more and more people are shopping locally," said Dewey.