City to take ownership of Chamber building

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By Patrick Yost editor

The city of Madison is close to taking ownership of the building that currently houses the Madison–Morgan Chamber of Commerce. The structure, built in 1887 as Madison’s City Hall and fire station, is currently owned by the Madison–Morgan Chamber Foundation, which raised the funds to repair the structure and create a welcome center and office space for the chamber.

According to Madison City Manager David Nunn, the foundation recently approach the city with a proposal to transfer ownership of the building to the city at no cost. The city agreed to renovate the former Madison Police Department, located next door to the current chamber building at the corner of Jefferson Street and Main Street, as space for the Madison–Morgan Chamber of Commerce and the economic development office of the chamber. Nunn said the Madison–Morgan Convention and Visitor’s Bureau would remain in the existing chamber building. “The (chamber building) does need some maintenance,” Nunn told the Madison City Council Monday night. “I think the city’s in a good position to handle that.” Nunn said the chamber foundation had recently had an inspection of the building. Repairs could reach more than $100,000, he said.

The city may include cost of the repairs on a future Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) vote, he said. “I think its going to be a great fit for our city,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman. “It will become part of our campus,” said city council member Chris Hodges. Nunn said he expects renovations for the old police department to be completed soon and, once negotiations are completed, the chamber could move into the new space early in 2016. He said, however, that the two groups are continuing to work out a five year lease agreement that would take into account equity built into the value of the chamber building.

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