SEBRING A building downtown at 248 Pomegrante Ave. has housed, a theater, a pet store, an appliance repair business and a mechanic’s shop during past eight decades.
Soon, it will house the administrative offices and emporium for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Highlands County. And in future years it may also include the after school program for the clubs, as well.
Levon Stukes, emporium manager, said the three-story building will offer more room for more types of items that can be sold to help fund services for children.
He said that in preparation for the move from a building on the downtown circle in June and the opening in July, a lot of interior work is being done.
Inside the building on the first floor, will eventually be offices, a library and areas where furniture, appliances, clothing, toys will be sold, he said.
The existing location for the emporium on the circle, which is smaller, often appears full and that may be a factor hurting the amount of donations.
“We don’t want people to stop donating,” Stukes said.
Much of the work on the building is being done by Stukes and employees of Delta Sebring, which is donating labor.
Wheeler Groves, based in Lake Placid, which previously owned the building, essentially donated it to the Boys and Girls Clubs, with the organization agreeing to pay taxes. Mark Wheeler, who owned the building along with his brother, David Wheeler, said they bought it about seven years ago and wanted to either lease it out or use it for office space.
The economy made those choices untenable so they decided to help out a charitable organization, Mark Wheeler said.
Moving into the building will save the Boys and Girls Clubs about $2,800 a month, said Dawn Balsamo, a member of the board of directors and president of Delta Sebring.
The Community Redevelopment Agency has agreed to provide the organization with $3,000 for improvements to the building’s façade and $20,000 over the next two years for building improvements.
Balsamo said the $10,000 this year will be spent on interior work, while the plan is to put the other $10,000 toward the $45,000 needed to replace the roof.
The clubs would like to obtain the lot next door and turn it into a playground area, Stukes said. If that happens, the program for children would be moved from a city-owned building, he said.