New home for Chamber purchased

Anderson County Chamber of Commerce President Rick Meredith shows the survey plat of the site for the new chamber headquarters to chamber officials Janet Hawkins, left, and Jackie Patton on Tuesday morning (June 28). The property is at North Main and Hicks streets, across from Knight’s Flowers. (photo:G. Chambers Williams III )
The Anderson County Chamber of Commerce last week closed on the purchase of a 1.17-acre lot on North Main Street in Clinton that will be the site of the new chamber headquarters.

Across from Knight’s Flowers, the vacant lot, formerly the Hicks homesite, was purchased from Brenda Lou Hemphill for $199,900. It has road frontage on North Main and North Hicks streets, with the Norfolk Southern Railway tracks at the rear.

Chamber President Rick Meredith said there will be two connecting buildings constructed on the site. One will hold the Chamber of Commerce offices, and the other the Anderson County Tourism Office, which will be moving from its current site in a log building near Interstate 75, next to Golden Girls restaurant.

The chamber will be moving from its offices at 245 N. Main St.

There is no street address assigned to the property yet, said chamber spokesman Jared Forgety. But Knight’s Flowers has an address of 397 N. Main St., on the east side of the road.

“We closed on the property on Tuesday, June 21,” Meredith said. “The next step is the design phase. We will be using MBI as our architects, and will work with them for the next 60 to 70 days, starting next week.”

Meredith said the chamber budget for its side of the building is a maximum of $2 million, and that Anderson County will be paying for the Tourism Department’s part of the structure.

“We won’t know the cost until we get the design done and we get cost estimates,” Meredith said. “We would like to stay way under $2 million.

“The next step after design will be fundraising, but nobody is going to pay for it with just a piece of property. We need to show them a pretty picture.”

The chamber wants a one-story design for the structure, but it could go to two levels if necessary, Meredith said.

“We’re hoping to go one story,” he said. “We will know more in about 60 days. We have to squeeze some parking in there, too.

“I’m hoping we can break ground before the end of the year,” Meredith said. “We want to get the design right first, then take a look at the cost estimates. We’ll definitely know our goals and what to raise by then.

“We just voted last week to auction the tourism building next to Golden Girls in the log cabin,” he said. “They have kind of outgrown it, plus welcome centers aren’t used much anymore. Most people do their research online.”