Grand Island Chamber of Commerce to undergo major facade renovation

The Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce is about to get a facelift.

Beginning in late October, work will begin to renovate the entire facade of the building facing Second Street in downtown Grand Island.

“Our main concern with the facade of the building is that it does not reflect the high energy, dynamic programs and personality of our services,” GIACC President Cindy Johnson told The Independent. “It’s a bit tired. It needs a little push. And so, while we were thinking about mere window dressing, we challenged ourselves to think a little deeper than that and ask, what does this building have to represent?”

The renovation is expected to cost around $335,000.

For the project, GIACC is working with Jim Brisnehan and Shane Labenz of Grand Island CMBA Architects.

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Only the facade is being renovated, Johnson said.

“As for the building itself, back and upstairs, it has been and continues to be discussed, but no decision has been made on that,” she said. . “We would love to be able to upgrade this building as our neighbors and fellow downtown residents are.”

Renovation work is currently underway on a nearby property, which will be the new home of COR Managed Services, formerly Computers on the Run.

The Chamber is still one of the first places businesses, new employees and people in general go for community information, Johnson said.

“If, in fact, we are the face of the Grand Island community, the face of this building does not represent us,” she said.

The building’s new look will feature “different design elements that reflect the avant-garde and forward movement” of the Chamber and Grand Island.

“We really want to be on the upgrade path as much as possible to make sure we’re not the saddest building in the neighborhood,” Johnson said. “It will encourage people to come in, and once they’re there, we’ll go from there.”

Construction is expected to potentially start in late October, with hopes of completion before the start of summer or September at the latest.

Work takes place throughout the winter, as it is the least busy time of year for the House, Johnson said.

“It’s not a complicated project and it’s not a hugely expensive project, so the hope is that they’ll be able to work in the time they have between some big projects,” Johnson said.

The renovation will require the entire front four-foot space of the building to be gutted, which will temporarily remove Johnson’s foyer and office.

The main entrance will also be moved.

The project is carried out using discretionary funds that the Chamber has saved over the years.

The Chamber is not eligible for tax increment funding because it is a not-for-profit agency.

“While we appreciate not having to pay taxes as a non-profit organization, when it comes to rehabilitation or large-scale redevelopments, the fact that we are not eligible for (TIF ) is a deterrent for us,” Johnson said.

GIACC is eligible for facade improvement funds through the Community Redevelopment Authority, but these funds are not being sought for the project.

“We do things that go beyond what you consider window dressing,” Johnson said. “It’s a little deeper than that.”

The GIACC Board considered considering other locations on Grand Island, but decided it was best to stay downtown.

“The Chamber should be located in the heart of your community,” Johnson said. “There are others who think that we should be located in a booming development area, maybe on 281, and still others who say, nowadays, is the place where you think is important?”

The changes coming to the House are “very exciting,” Johnson said.

“We’re really excited about this,” she said. “There’s little we can do to improve the working environment and aesthetics of the building, while maximizing efficiency and ensuring those who work here have a great work experience.”

For more information about the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce and its programs, visit gichamber.com.

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