The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce wants assistance in finding a new headquarters in what officials describe as “the center of activities” in the region.
The Chamber’s Board of Directors has authorized a request for proposals seeking a “site selector / buyer’s representative” for real estate expertise.
The firm or individual hired would also be asked to advise whether a previous target to relocate by October is still feasible.
“We had originally thought we would have some proposals in the first quarter of this year but we thought we should get some professionals involved,” said Tim Hulbert, president of the Chamber.
The Chamber expects to sell its existing building at the corner of East Market Street and Fifth Street NE. The property has a 2017 assessment of $682,872 and a professional appraisal from last year found it to be worth $700,000.
The Chamber purchased the property in June 1981 and paid $128,500. The building was constructed in 1911 according to city property records.
“Center of activities” is loosely defined in the request as being Downtown, Preston Avenue, Emmet Street or U.S. 29 between Barracks Road and Rio Road.
“The Chamber will not limit its location consideration as perhaps other areas meet the ‘center’ test,” reads the request for proposals. “In seeking a new location, the Chamber invites a wide range of proposals.”
The proposal also states that there should be “readily accessible, less costly or no cost parking available.”
“We pay a significant amount of money each year for parking,” Hulbert said. “Parking won’t drive the decision but it’s going to be an important component.”
The request also states that the Chamber wants to have a total of 6,000 square feet in their new location. The current two-story building has just under 3,000 square feet.
“We want to have a couple of conference rooms,” Hulbert said. “We have meetings that have fifty people here and have to have them off-site [currently]. A sizable board room will allow us to have more of those meetings on site.”
Hulbert said the Chamber wants more space to gather people for conversations about issues facing the community.
“It’s an opportunity for a broader discussion which includes a business lens as well as a civic lens,” Hulbert said.
The Chamber is open to either purchasing or renting a structure. It is also open to naming or sponsorship rights.
The service being requested is similar to Albemarle County’s hiring of the firm Stantec to help the Board of Supervisors make a decision about a public-private partnership to promote redevelopment of the area around the intersection of Rio Road and U.S. 29.
Two blocks away, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is also considering a move from their offices on Water Street. Their lease is up in August 2020 and the regional agency is considering a new home.
“The TJPDC is interested in owning our own building for long term growth, if affordable,” said executive director Chip Boyles. “Our other options are to renew our lease in 2020 or to lease at another location. We currently have a buildings committee looking at all options.”