Progress on the anticipated Adams Building in downtown Inverness took a step forward this week with the release by its developer of an artist rendering of the three-story structure.
But developer Scott Adams said the coronavirus has taken a toll and slowed discussions with perspective tenants and as a result likely pushed back construction months.
But Adams told the Chronicle Tuesday that he is still confident in the project slated for a restaurant and offices at the corner of Courthouse Square and U.S. 41.
Adams said the pandemic cooled discussions with people interested in moving their business into the facility but said he’s kept in close contact with most and that he will likely start closing lease deals by the end of the year or early 2021 and probably start construction by mid 2021.
Businesses are a little skittish about expanding right now, “but I think by the first of the year (the economy) will come back strong,” Adams told the Chronicle.
Adams said that while the economic effect of the virus is disappointing, he can make good use of the delay.
Adams said he wants to work with committed tenants before construction begins so he can tailor construction the interior of the building to their needs rather than build it now and then have to gut the interior later. He said he’s now looking at designing the first floor for a restaurant and the other two floors as offices. Adams said he also wants to design most of the offices to suit committed tenants before construction begins.
But “this virus has just knocked the fire out of” restaurant expansions for right now, he said. “It’s basically shut everyone down.”
Physicians are also holding off in expanding or moving their offices, he said, and instead waiting to see how the economy recovers, which means delays in getting commitments to lease space in the building.
“Expansion is not on the top of their list,” he said.
But Adams said these speed bumps will not derail the project and feels the project has what it needs to succeed.
Adams said he can fund the more than $1 million project with his own money, so there is not the stress of facing a mortgage that he has to repay. Although, building will need at least a couple of committed tenants before construction begins, he added.
Adams said he will also need the city’s approval of the engineering plans for the building once more is known about tenant needs.
Another strength is that there is a need for office and medical space in downtown Inverness, which the building will provide, he said.
Inverness’ small town appeal, along with the city’s tourism and special events continues to be a draw, he said. In addition, Citrus Memorial Hospital is also expanding services and attracting more doctors to Inverness, increasing demand for office space.
The Adams Building would be one of two new buildings for downtown Inverness, which has not seen a new building constructed there in more than a decade.
The proposed design of the building on the relatively small 5,000 square-foot lot includes aesthetic elements of from both city hall and the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum.
The project has also had long running support from the city council, which has encouraged downtown development.
“It’s going to be beautiful,” said council president Jacquie Hepfer recently. “You went above and beyond to make this happen. This is the kind of growth we need.”
Adams said the city is a good location for the office building.
“Inverness is about as good a quality living as you can get,” Adams said. “And the new Depot District is a fabulous job.”