Golden Gate building gets new lease on life

The Historic Golden Gate Building. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Historic Golden Gate Community, Inc.

The Historic Golden Gate Building, at the corner of Dixie Highway and Delmar Street. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Historic Golden Gate Community, Inc.

See also:
Main page for Golden Gate Project >>
Open house Nov. 6 >>

The historic Golden Gate building recently has made major strides toward becoming a community hub for education, career training and resources for the neighborhood.

The Martin County Board of County Commissioners on Aug. 18, 2015, granted House of Hope a 15-year lease for the historic building, which is at the corner of Dixie Highway and Delmar Street in Stuart.

The agency, whose main office is just two blocks away on the corner of Dixie and Bonita Street, leads a group of collaborative partners that will help residents of Golden Gate access services and enrichment opportunities.

“We will move quickly to develop plans, apply for permits and get construction moving,” said House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri. “We are hopeful construction will start before the end of the year.”

At the same time, Ranieri said, “House of Hope will be working on plans for programs, additional partners, more funding, and other opportunities to improve and enrich the lives of our clients and the community as a whole.”

House of Hope will have a leadership role in the partnership and in the building’s maintenance and staffing — which will include many volunteers.

Other partners in the Golden Gate project include United Way of Martin County, Habitat for Humanity, Indian River State College, Martin County Library System and Project LIFT.

Some of the potential programs and classes that may occur at the Golden Gate building include:

  • Classes on budgeting, home repair, health, nutrition, etc., by Habitat for Humanity.
  • English as a second language classes by the Martin County Library System.
  • Library services and resource drop for library materials.
  • The technology offerings of the library system’s Idea Lab.
  • Vocational training through IRSC.
  • Arts and cultural programs.
  • Parenting classes.
  • Health and wellness trainings.
  • Connection to vocational training by Project LIFT.
  • Volunteer work toward career training.
  • Classes and programs from other nonprofit partners.

A survey is being conducted to determine high-level needs to offer at the facility.

The Golden Gate building, 3225 SE Dixie Hwy., was constructed in 1925 as the office for the area’s development company. Over the years, it has served as a post office, a church and an art studio. The building has not been occupied since about 1959. The county purchased the building in 2002 to prevent the historic building’s destruction. The Friends of the Historic Golden Gate Community were a driving force behind getting work done on the exterior, including shoring up the walls, which were in danger of collapse.

Renovations are needed to the interior to make it usable, including electrical and plumbing work.

Renovations are estimated to cost $200,000. An anonymous family foundation has pledged $120,000 through the United Way of Martin County, and the county commission has allocated an $80,000 Community Redevelopment Agency grant for the remainder. Furthermore, Stuart-based N2 Architecture + Design has pledged to donate design services.

“I believe that a big reason for the approval from the county commissioners was the strong reputation and success that House of Hope has had and continues to have across the county,” Ranieri said.

Commissioner Ed Fielding, who joined Doug Smith and John Haddox in support of the project, voiced that confidence.

“I believe that this opportunity for using the historic Golden Gate building with House of Hope and the various groups that will be involved is a fantastic opportunity for the community,” Fielding said. “It will be a source of support for the families and the young folks. … It will be an impetus for community growth that so many projects will come about as a result of this. I am extremely supportive and glad we’re making this good progress.”

Also in support of the project is Saadia Tsaftarides, a Golden Gate resident and longtime neighborhood advocate. “I’m over-the-moon!” she said. “This has been a long time coming — hundreds and hundreds of hours spent working to make this happen. I am so excited for the community.”


The Stuart News, July 8, 2015 (used with permission)

The following article was printed following the approval on July 7, 2015, by the Martin County Board of County Commissioners to allocate funds toward the renovation of the Golden Gate building. 

MARTIN COUNTY — The long-shuttered Golden Gate Building is poised to become a community resource center for the Historic Golden Gate Community.

Plans are for a nonprofit organization to lease the structure from Martin County and for community organizations to provide adult education classes, career training and access to library online resources.

Renovation should cost about $200,000, according to county records, with $120,000 of that coming from an anonymous donor.

The County Commission, sitting as the Golden Gate Community Redevelopment Agency, on Tuesday voted 3-2 to allocate the remaining $80,000.

Located just off Dixie Highway and Southeast Delmar Street, the building would open after renovations as a community center with computer and Wi-Fi access, and meeting space.

Renovation would include completion of the second floor, plumbing and electrical work and the addition of an elevator.

The House of Hope, a nonprofit group that helps residents out of poverty, is to lease the building from the county. Those details are to be worked out over the next month.

The county could lease the property for as little as $1 per year as it has done with other county-owned property.

Built in 1925 in the Mission architectural style, the Golden Gate Building has been shuttered for several years.

Martin County bought the building in 2002 for $115,000, according to the Property Appraiser’s Office. About $540,000 has been put into upkeep, county records show. Work on the facade was done, but the inside remains unfinished.

About six organizations are collaborating to bring services to the Golden Gate community through the new center: House of Hope, Indian River State College, the Martin County Library System, United Way of Martin County, Habitat for Humanity of Martin County and Project L.I.F.T., which helps youth who are struggling with substance abuse.

Project supporters say a community center is a much-needed amenity in the economically struggling Golden Gate neighborhood.

“Transportation has long been a barrier to a lot of the residents in Golden Gate to participate in some of the county services. This is a way to overcome that barrier and bring some of the services of the community so they can utilize a dormant county asset,” said Robert Ranieri, of House of Hope.

County commissioners Sarah Heard and Anne Scott voted no on allocating money to the project. While supporting the project, they said wanted to hold approval until the county establishes a policy for leasing its property.

“We have to prioritize our spending, and I certainly don’t know that I could prioritize … (money) for this project right now against all other county projects,” Heard said. “And we don’t have a policy about leasing.”