The rustic indoor cabin and mirror-filled exercise room are long gone, as construction workers turn a former Oakwood business location into offices for an agency that provides services to seniors and their families.
In a $1.8 million project, Legacy Link is preparing to move some 80 employees from three locations across Gainesville under one roof, in what started as Oakwood Sportsmen’s Lodge and later became Bodyplex fitness center, off Mundy Mill Road.
“It will improve (staff) coordination ... and save money,” Pat Freeman, the private nonprofit organization’s CEO, said of the move. “The mortgage payment will be less than paying rent in those three locations.”
Legacy Link serves as the Department of Human Services’ Area Agency on Aging for Northeast Georgia, providing advocacy for seniors, as well as programs and home-based services.
The new building “will give us conference rooms we don’t currently have and meeting space where we can do educational sessions that we don’t have space for,” Freeman said during a tour Wednesday.
“And we’ll have room for expansion of staff.”
Legacy Link now has offices at Gainestown Office Park off E.E. Butler Parkway, Lakeshore Mall off Pearl Nix Parkway and in the Gainesville school system building at 508 Oak St. Some employees work at senior centers in Union, Towns and Habersham counties.
Jimmy Berrong, who heads the agency’s building committee, said Legacy Link now uses about 13,000 square feet of space, while the new building has 16,000 on each of two floors.
The basement, part of which once served as Oakwood Sportsmen’s Lodge’s shooting range, will be used for storage and a 2,000-square-foot conference room.
Initially, Legacy Link looked in Gainesville for a new home before finding the Oakwood location.
“Oakwood is expanding. (South Hall) is where the growth is in the county,” Freeman said. “Lots of seniors live in this area.”
Legacy Link closed on the property in December and hopes to be in the new offices in August, with some kind of ribbon-cutting or formal ceremony marking the occasion, she said.
The Gainesville school system, which receives $60,000 per year in rent money from Legacy Link, is starting to plan now for when the agency is gone.
The system “does need some of that space,” Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said. “We have offices in satellite (locations) because we did not have the space here or the storage.”
Another option is reconfiguring space, including moving the boardroom to the front of the building.
“And we’re thinking about what sections we could possibly lease for a small office or business,” Dyer said.
Legacy Link “has been wonderful neighbors,” she added. “We’ll miss having them. Even though it’s two entities (in the building), we really work closely and share space together.”
The organization’s departure will free up parking at the building.
“Legacy Link has twice as many employees as we do, then people from the field come into the building,” she said. “That’s going to take a lot of cars out of our parking lot.”