Braselton got a historic building for free, but fixing it won’t be cheap, as the town council learned last week.
Developer Wayne Mason donated the former Braselton Supermarket — as part of the Braselton Brothers Store complex — in 2009 to the town.
The space, located at the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 53 and Ga. Hwy. 124, had been occupied by the Braselton Tile Factory, which recently vacated a portion of the building. The company, however, is still open in the complex.
The 5,000 square-foot space next to the Braselton Antique Mall had been used as storage since the 1980s, according to town manager Jennifer Dees. The Braselton family once operated its supermarket from the space.
The building needs a heating and air conditioning system, and a number of other repairs ranging from replacing plaster ceiling and walls to installing a new electrical system.
More than a dozen companies toured the space to consider how to install a heating and air conditioning system, according to Dees. Only two of them submitted bids.
The lowest bid to install the system was $45,000, a price that didn’t settle well with town council members when they learned about the cost on Thursday.
“There’s always a catch to free,” Dees said.
The council also learned that other repairs in the historic building were estimated at $55,000.
The $100,000 price tag for the projects left some council members wondering if the repairs should be done or if the building should remain empty. “It would really look really bad when we build the town green and we do all of the streetscapes, and we have a big, empty space in the building that’s the hallmark of our downtown,” Dees said.
Once Braselton completes its realignment of Ga. Hwy. 124 at the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 53 to the rear of the Braselton Brothers Store, it will allow for the creation of a new “town green” in the existing front of the building. The town green has been called a key project by officials for revitalizing downtown Braselton.
The town also plans to reconfigure the store complex so that the existing rear of the building becomes a new front entrance, next to the realigned roadway. One of the reasons for the high price of the projects is that the Braselton Brothers Store complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dees said the town, which is responsible for leasing the building, has already received inquires from retail businesses and a restaurant about renting the space.
“There’s no question that should we get it ready to lease, it will be filled,” she said.
The town hasn’t determined a new rental rate for the space, but it will likely be over $1,000 a month once the projects are complete, she added.
The Braselton Town Council decided Monday to wait until its next meeting before voting on the proposal.
Meanwhile, council members will individually tour the building, since none of them had been inside the former supermarket, according to Dees.
The project, if approved by the town council, will be funded by downtown revitalization money in Braselton’s general fund budget, she added.