Former Chamber building has new owner, new mission

By Nick Blank
Posted 9/26/18

ORANGE PARK – The former home of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce has new ownership and is getting a reboot.

The tan hipped-roof building at 1734 Kingsley Ave. has been renovated by its new …

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Former Chamber building has new owner, new mission

Posted

ORANGE PARK – The former home of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce has new ownership and is getting a reboot.

The tan hipped-roof building at 1734 Kingsley Ave. has been renovated by its new owners Jacksonville-based Bold City who is renting offices. He has already established a co-working space on the second floor of the building, which also has a 600-square-foot conference room on the first floor.

Bold City Commercial managing partner Tim Horvath said the company put about $87,000 into renovations in addition to its $550,000 sale price, according to the Clay County Property Appraiser.

Original blueprints of the building, built in 1987, are encased on the first floor walls with a plaque commemorating the building’s donors.

“We kept the traditional brown, and the placard from when the building was donated,” Horvath said. “We’d paid homage to that.”

The upstairs is more modern, which Horvath said will operate as a shared co-op space with utilities and furnishings for businesses that don’t need a full-time office.

“For the upstairs, we completely renovated the entire thing,” Horvath said. “We at Bold City are hoping to attract small and growing businesses from within the community.”

Clay Chamber of Commerce President Tresa Calfee said she was pleased the new ownership was able to put a different spin on the building while maintaining some of the older features.

“Back in the 1980s, a lot of the chamber buildings in Florida were similar to that one,” Calfee said. “There was a lot of heart and soul put into that building. A lot of people in the community gave to make it happen.”

The chamber moved to Fleming Island in December 2017. Calfee cited the need for the chamber to be centrally-located in the county and closer to Green Cove Springs, Penney Farms and Keystone Heights.

“The [chamber] board of directors thought moving to Fleming Island was an excellent choice and we are thrilled to be here,” Calfee said. “[The old building] served a purpose for the last 30 years, but it’s changed now with the First Coast Expressway coming through and our businesses migrating. Fifteen years ago, Fleming Island was not what it is today.”

The property had also been the former home of the Clay County Development Authority, which was an equal partner in the building’s ownership. For years, it was home to economic development deals that helped shape the future of the Clay County workforce.

But, the property on Kingsley Avenue has a legacy that came with the larger tract’s past. It’s often referred to as “The Monkey Farm.”

Founded by Dr. Robert Yerkes, Yale’s Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology housed primates near the property as early as 1930. Emory University took over the lab in 1965 and moved the facility to Atlanta.

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