Community Redevelopment Agency board votes to purchase Southebys

SOUTHEBY’S ANTIQUES

By RUBY KEARCE 

The DeFuniak Springs Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Board met for a special meeting on Wednesday, March 13, regarding the purchase of the old Southeby’s Antique location. The CRA’s executive Director, Joshua Ervin, explained that the owner of the property, Odalia M. South, approached the city first about selling the property to the city and was redirected to Ervin, given the CRA’s current redevelopment program as well as a desire to assist with the farmers’ market structure in some capacity.

When South approached the city about selling the property, one of the suggested uses given by South was a farmers market. Also, the CRA wants to expand the current Main Street Farmers Market into this building, but no Main Street DeFuniak Springs representatives were present to speak on Main Street’s desire to use the property. Ervin explained that this building could be used for anything, an extension of the current Main Street Farmers Market, a stand alone farmers market, or a multitude of other opportunities. 

During the meeting, Board member Susan Bakalo expressed concern about the owner, South, being displeased that the building could possibly be used for something other than a farmers market. 

“The original intention of mine was to offer the building as a farmers market because it had already been a farmers market,” South said, “but if you buy it and you decide not to have a farmers market, that would be up to you as the new owners. I can not tell you what to do after you purchase it.” 

This somewhat eased Bakalo’s mind, but she still had concerns regarding Main Street’s desire to expand. 

Board member Joe Johnson added that the purchase of this location could start the conversation of expanding Main Street’s farmers market, however Johnson said that the board should not base its decision on what Main Street does. “This should be based off of the decision that this is a good opportunity for this board.” Johnson said that once the property has been purchased, the board can sit down with Main Street and the attorney to review all of the possibilities, such as leasing the property to Main Street. 

“Let’s not close the door for nothing, let’s work together on this, and see if there is a possibility to make this happen, ” Johnson said. He explained that the CRA has plenty of funds to aid farmers in a given area and that this would help the community by giving them an option to buy locally sourced produce and products. Johnson moved to make a motion to sign the contract and purchase the property with Bakalo seconding.