Gramling's Could See Redevelopment Rebirth

Jun 10, 2019

Its days as an old time feed and hardware store may be coming to an end. But the Gramling's building on South Adams Street may be on the verge of a bright new future.

Architect Gina Conn's rendering of the repurposed Gramling's building, adjoining a new structure to house multi-vendor food service.
Credit Conn & Assoc. Architects

In advance of the store's demise, Stan Gramling, whose family has had the business for the past 104 years, is inviting everybody to the farewell party.

"On Saturday, June 22nd, we're going to be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. I'm going to have my band 'Nightshift' play and have a couple of food trucks. And I hope we have a lot of people who just want to say goodbye," he said, more than a touch of wistfullness in his voice.

But even though Stan is shutting down the business, he said the building that has housed the business since 1925, could live on.

"We've got interest right now," he revealed. "Somebody wanting to buy and retain a lot of the building. Revamp a bunch of the inside, but keep the building looking like it kind of does. I'm happy about that. There are a lot of people who have come to me hoping that it's not going to be bulldozed and I'd hate to see it because it's been a part of my life since I was a kid and that's been 69 years."

Meanwhile, this person has even drawn up plans for the rebirth of Gramling's.

"My name is Gina Conn and I work for Conn & Associates Architects in Tallahassee, Florida and I'm a recent graduate of the Florida A&M University School of Architecture."

Conn works for her father Michael Conn, who has designed a raft of well-known Tallahassee buildings, including The Edison, The Gateway Building and Danfoss Turbocorp. Like him, she's looking for a uniquely Tallahassee style that uses - or at least echoes - distinctive older buildings.

"When I was asked to do a thesis for my master's degree, the first thing that came to mind was how architecture contributes to identity. And how can we do a better job of acknowleding the city that we're in and capitalize on what's already there, rather than just doing what's popular."

Conn said she loves the revitalization of the so-called "So-Mo" district. She envisioned a food-beverage-entertainment complex for her master's project.

"You have Happy Motoring and Proof and all of these great projects coming in and they're all focusing on preserving what was there instead of razing and building new. So we thought of Gramling's and it was just obvious."

Conn's concept of the revamped Gramling's building interior, which would become a space for live music and other entertainment.
Credit Conn & Assoc. Architects

Suddenly, a message from her dad elevated Conn's concept way above a simple academic exercise. "One day he sent me a text message and said, 'Hey, aren't you working on the Gramling's site for your thesis?' And I said, 'Yeah.' And he goes, 'I've got someone who's interested in redeveloping the site.' And I said, 'You're kidding!' And he said, 'No, you've got to meet him and show him all the work you did for the site.'"

Now, she said, there is a strong liklihood her artist renderings will be translated into three-dimensional reality.

"I got to meet this potential buyer of Gramling's and he happened to have the exact same vision. I had never met or talked to him, we had never crossed paths. And we bonded in this very conference room on that day over the beauty and the uniqueness of this site and what it could contribute to downtown Tallahassee."

So far, the identity of the property buyer remains undisclosed, except to say he's an active member of the military, currently stationed in Germany. WFSU is endeavoring to reach him and obtain his comments on the project, as well as a current status on the Gramling's property sale. We'll keep you posted.

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