An insurance company with ties to the community for more than 100 years plans to build a new office building next to the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center on a 2-acre parcel it recently purchased from the city of Gainesville.
Turner, Wood & Smith expects to begin construction within the next five months and be ready to move its 40 employees to their new building by spring 2018, according to Joe Wood Jr., the firm’s president and CEO.
Wood told The Times on Wednesday that the company has outgrown its current location on a downtown city block bordered by Academy and Bradford streets, Northside Drive and Brenau Avenue. TWS sold that property to the city last summer for $1.5 million and will continue to lease the building from the city until its new home is built.
Wood said TWS closed on city property on Community Way — adjacent to the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center parking lot — earlier this month.
Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey said the winning bid for the Frances Meadows lot was $705,000 made by 100 Brenau Partners — a business registered by Wood and with ties to TWS.
Wood said the total cost of the property to the company was $735,000, when real estate commission is included.
“We’re very excited to have that location,” Wood said. “We feel like it’s a location that will serve our needs for many, many years.”
Wood said the company plans to build 15,000 square feet of office space with 97 parking spots. He said there’s a pad to accommodate more parking in the future.
“We’re building more space than we need at the present time, but we plan to grow into it,” the CEO said.
Gainesville officials already are taking steps to rezone more than 53 acres of city-owned property in the Community Way area that includes the aquatic center and Gainesville Middle School.
The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board approved a petition by the city to rezone the area for institutional and office use.
Rusty Ligon, the city’s community development director, presented the petition to the planning board at a meeting Tuesday.
“The purpose of the request is to bring all of the properties into a consistent classification to better fit the existing uses,” Ligon told the planning board.
Lackey said the downtown lot the city purchased from 100 Brenau Partners will likely be used for additional parking.
“The city believes that lot is an ideal location for a future parking deck to address parking issues on the north side of our downtown,” Lackey said.