A stately stone-and-brick building sits along Broad Street in downtown Gainesville, hiding the history in its walls.
The Robson Event Center was once the town feed store, a stop along the tracks. Later, it became an auto shop owned by Goodyear Tire and Rubber, and then a Satterfield’s Sporting Goods.
Today, the event center is for sale, meaning another potential transition for the building.
“The neatest thing for me is just the history of this building,” Realtor Brent Hoffman said. “The train used to come right here, where you see the train outside now. This was a feed store and a place where people congregated as the train backed up and unloaded into this building. It’s had numerous uses since.”
The building was purchased in 2011 by Milton Robson, who initially considering converting the building into his office.
“He was going to maybe move his offices here, and Milton is a car collector,” Hoffman said. “So he had these large garage doors made on the front, so you can drive a car in or bring in something large.”
But instead of office space, Robson decided to construct the event center.
He completely renovated it in 2012, putting more than $1.2 million into the building.
“He’s decided now to sell it because he’s in Florida most of the time,” Hoffman said.
The 11,000-square-foot building is listed for $1.9 million. Robson will owner finance the purchase to a qualified buyer, Hoffman said.
The main event space is divided partly into two areas, one typically used for wedding ceremonies and the other for receptions. A giant mirrored and mahogany bar sits against the back wall, framing the exposed brick walls and more urban, black-painted ceilings.
The building also has tiled, upscale men’s and women’s restrooms, a small “prep” kitchen and a decadently furnished space used by bridal parties for getting ready. Much of the building includes the original wood floors, stained dark, and in the back is unfinished open space for storage.
Hoffman called the area between Jesse Jewell Parkway and downtown Gainesville, where the event center is located, “kind of ground zero for Gainesville.”
“On Jesse Jewell there’s a traffic count of about 50,000 cars a day,” he said. “This sits in a very good location.”
Two neighboring lots to the center are owned by the city of Gainesville, which is studying how best to use the lots. Hoffman predicted the areas could become retail space with a residential aspect, and the same change could be made at the center.
He said Gainesville is “just set to explode,” with retail and restaurants drawing people to the downtown area.
“What could be best for this space is turning it into retail, or particularly a restaurant,” Hoffman said. “That would be just beautiful. I really hope to get the right buyer for this property.”