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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Pride Community Center of North Central Florida may relocate after building sale

Board of Directors considers shared commercial space

<p>Gainesville community members gather at Heartwood Soundstage in protest of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill Saturday, March 19, 2022. </p>

Gainesville community members gather at Heartwood Soundstage in protest of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill Saturday, March 19, 2022.

After about 16 years serving the community in its current location, the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida may relocate by April.

The building’s owners — who paid the rent — sold the property, located at 3131 NW 13th St. The center’s president, Tamára Perry-Lunardo, announced the move in a statement released on the center’s website and social media.

The owners felt they needed to let the space go, Perry-Lunardo said, because the agency Saul Silber Properties owned the rest of the plaza.

“Our previous owners owned only the building, so they didn't have any rights to the parking spaces in front of it, the sidewalk in front of it,” she said.

The Board of Directors pays for the building’s maintenance, repairs, cleaning services, utilities and property taxes, Perry-Lunardo said, but monthly rent in the current space would be too much for the center.

Still, the board may stay and pay rent for a few months while deciding the next move, she said.

“No matter what, our expenses are going to increase,” she said. “We're going to pay rent, which we've not had to do before.”

The board is considering sharing a commercial space with another non-profit organization at the intersection of Northwest 16th Avenue and Northwest Sixth Street.

It could be an exciting opportunity, Perry-Lunardo said.

“We would be neighbors with other like-minded non-profits who — they may not have the same mission — but are aligned with social justice and equality,” she said.

Location and accessibility are key factors in deciding where to move to, Perry-Lunardo said.

“We looked at some properties that were great, but they were on the second floor of a building and there was no elevator,” she said. “There was no easy mode of transportation for a person who uses a wheelchair or other mobility devices.”

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The board is also paying attention to nearby bus routes to ensure transportation is viable, Perry-Lunardo said.

The building was sold Feb. 15, but the new owners offered the board a 60-day grace period while deciding where to relocate to. 

The board is hosting a meeting March 7 at 7 p.m. to discuss the details of relocating and receive feedback from the community. There will also be “Work Parties” to clean out the space — the first one is set for April 1.

Anyone interested in providing support or input can fill out a form, available on the center’s website. The board is seeking everything from financial assistance to an artist’s decor for the new space.

After the death of the center’s co-president Terry Fleming and a hate crime investigation following the center being vandalized, Perry-Lunardo said the move is bittersweet.

“We still have a rock lodged in our wall here from that attack,” she said. “There are a lot of good memories at this place. There's also a lot of sad memories. It’s sort of a matter of loving and honoring our past, but we need to let go in order to create our future.”

Contact Lauren at Follow her on Twitter @LaurenBrensel.

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Lauren Brensel

Lauren Brensel is a journalism sophomore and a metro reporter for The Alligator. In her free time, she's found going on mental health walks, being silly with friends, hiding from the public and reminding those around her that they did this song on Glee.

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