In November 2022, NAMAR President Karren Amidon, selected 8 NAMAR members to participate on a Building Search Committee. This committee was created to explore options that NAMAR could evaluate as a suitable location to relocate as the term of our lease in our current location would expire in May of 2023. The committee started with Janet’ Goff (NAMAR AE) David McEachern (Commercial Committee Chair), Nakia Brooks (2023 President), Gretchen Ozburn (2023 President-Elect), Karren Amidon (Immediate Past President), Lisa Oden (Member at Large), Susan Kliesen (Member at Large) and Michael Blackburn (Member at Large). Over time Lisa and Michael became co-chairs of the committee. The Committee later added Tommy Slappey, Stephanie McClusky and Sarah Morra additional Members at Large.
The search began by pouring through every commercial real estate listing service that could be located to uncover the best potential. We quickly were disappointed in the options that were available for sale, lease, etc. There simply were no compelling options that excited the majority of the committee, if any at all. The goal was to locate a suitable location where our members could return to the good days with plenty of space for events, classes, meeting space and parking. Parking quickly began to be our primary focus. Each time we felt we found a suitable location, parking became the issue. Either the location had shared parking with several other occupants, or there were no parking options within close proximity. Our next concern was locations where we would be upstairs and would there be elevator access to ensure we were ADA compliant or could be open the space sufficiently to create a training environment where NAMAR could host multiple classes at once for smaller groups, or open it all up to have a large open space for a single class or an event (onsite for a change).
Months went by and we found locations that might work, but it was determined that it might be too close to neighboring counties and other associations therefore making it not a good option for NAMAR and its members or its staff in some cases. So many things to take into consideration when looking for a new home for your association. Again, month after month and there were no new properties, or we would locate a property just to discover the listing was years old and never removed from the service. The thought of purchasing a vacant lot and building our own version of an member driven association facility was discussed but the cost of vacant land was out of reach from our discussions. Then one day a lot appeared on the scene. Located in downtown Lawrenceville, near restaurants, near the Gwinnett County Justice Center, so much close by that could be an advantage for our association from many aspects. Talk about an opportunity for Advocacy in the county but to be across the street from the Gwinnett Justice Center. What a win for Advocacy.
So, the committee put on boots and jeans and went trampling through a wooded acre and had visions of what could be. How could we afford the land and build a facility to meet the needs of not just our current membership, but how could we also envision what such a facility could mean for generations to come. We envisioned who large of space we could have on the lot compared to the roughly 2,400 sq ft of space currently being used. Turned out the lot had already been zoned and approved for a 38,000 sq ft building, but we did not need that much space, so we opted to look into the cost for a 6,00-8,000 sq ft building. One that could house administrative and MLS in the upper level and the lower could be utilized as the dream come true training space we had been discussing.
So after months of searching, it was approved to make an offer and we negotiated what we believe was a great deal on vacant land in the city of Lawrenceville. Between the building committee, the finance committee, the executive committee and the NAMAR Board of Directors, many discussions ensued and finally a decision was made to move forward not just for the purchase of the land, but the beginning of the actual facility itself. On July 14, 2023 NAMAR closed on the land and the process of prepping the land for the construction of our new home began. Months of works between many committees were realized with the completion of the land purchase. Months of discussions with builders on the options, not just the facility but the permits required to create this new home for the members. The dedication of the teams to this project are amazing and soon NAMAR will once again be a property owner and home to a facility that will make our members proud.