Habitat for Humanity store moving to high-profile Brooksville hub

BROOKSVILLE — Habitat for Humanity of Hernando County has committed to a new home for its thrift store.

It will leave its current home on S Broad Street in the Airport Industrial Park in late April and move into the former Walgreens at State Road 50 and U.S. 41, next to Dollar Tree and near the new Publix supermarket and Starbucks. Opening at the new site is set for May 1.

"Location, location, location," said an enthusiastic Ken Aldridge, Habitat president. "We'll do more business there. The traffic pattern is what we like."

Also, Goodwill Industries is closing its thrift store across the street, moving to an under-construction superstore on Commercial Way near Spring Hill Drive. So Habitat's store will fill a void for customers accustomed to shopping thriftily at the crossroads.

Habitat has been seeking a new store site since January 2007, when an inspection by county code enforcement officials noted the thrift store, a retail outlet, was out of compliance with the industrial zoning in the airpark. Habitat's preconstruction uses at the site met the zoning requirements.

Hernando County gave Habitat leeway to continue with the thrift store there, so long as it was actively seeking a new location.

It has not been easy.

Owners of two sites that met the shop's requirements turned down Habitat because they didn't want a secondhand store in their neighborhood. Another plan to seek rezoning of a site on Oliver Street near the fairgrounds, where Habitat has already moved its preconstruction operations, fell through because of complexities of land ownership, zoning regulations by both the county and the city of Brooksville, and high renovation costs.

Refurbishing the new site will include building a suite of offices and cubicles, establishing areas for furniture sales and hanging spaces for clothing, installing drywall and cleaning floors, and putting in a checkout stand, Aldridge said. Volunteers will take on the building tasks and any changes that require permits will be given to licensed contractors, he said.

As for the cost of renovation, Aldridge said, "We don't know yet."

Leasing the 14,000-square-foot building runs about $9,000 a month, said immediate past president Bob Jillings, who helped negotiate the contract. That compares with $7,000 monthly at the slightly larger current site. But Jillings agreed with Aldridge, saying the busier location should generate more business.

Beth Gray can be reached at graybethn@earthlink.net.

Habitat for Humanity store moving to high-profile Brooksville hub 04/02/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 2, 2008 10:25pm]

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