The new center is located on Montrose Street just half a block from City Hall and is designed to match that building's architecture. It will house the offices of the South Lake Chamber of Commerce and provide a venue for meetings, wedding and other functions.
The Center sits on land once occupied by the local library. That building had to be closed because of mold problems. The building was leveled and the property held for future use. Jenkins, meanwhile, has had its share of problems from leaking roofs to squirrels in the attic. The cost of maintaining the building became prohibitive and it was decided to replace it with the new structure.
Jenkins, which had once been an All American Store, was bought out by Publix and served as one of that company's earliest supermarkets. It is believed to be the 25th store the company opened. When Publix built a new facility nearby, the old market was donated to the city.
Clermont Mayor Hal Turville presided over the event joking that one local resident was working at that Publix when he was a kid. "Be careful what you say, Mayor," quipped Chamber Chairman Robert Thompson. "You were Mayor when I was a kid!"
In addition to the Chamber offices, the 11,354 square foot center features a large kitchen area equipped to handle two caterers at once time according to City Engineer Tamara Richardson. The meeting area can be partitioned into three rooms, each smaller than the last or be used as one large room.
"The room can seat 240 people in a banquet setting," Turville told the audience. "Or 500 people is rows of seats."
The rooms are available for rental through the South Lake Chamber of Commerce. For information, contact them at 352-394-4191.