Old Hartselle post office to become event center, new home for chamber
By Wes Tomlinson
For the Enquirer
Plans to purchase and transform Hartselle’s old downtown post office into an event center, chamber headquarters and business incubator are underway and city officials hope renovations will be complete sometime in 2024.
To lead efforts to refurbish the vacant building, the Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce formed a nonprofit organization with an eight-member board of directors called the Hartselle For Tomorrow Foundation. The goal of the organization is to help raise funds to purchase and renovate the 83-year-old post office.
The post office, located at 113 Sparkman St. N.W., is currently owned by local businessman James Chapman, who purchased it from Hartselle Utilities for $116,655 in 2013. Hartselle Utilities vacated the property in 2002 and moved to its current facility on North Sparkman Street.
The post office project will be modeled after a previous successful fundraising drive, according to Foundation board member Daxton Maze, who is also a Hartselle City school board member.
“The endeavor for fundraising for this project is similar to how we secured funding to renovate The Burleson Center in the early 2000s,” Maze said. “Donations from big to small are monumental and we got everything for the Burleson Center from donations from our stakeholders.”
The post office building is also slated to be the future headquarters of the Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The Chamber is currently rooted in a building close to the railroad tracks, but they’ve kind of outgrown it at this point and need a little more space,” Maze said.
Foundation board President Brad Sheats on Monday said his organization wants to preserve the “well-loved” post office for the next generation. The renovations will include building a community education center and event space in the old post office, an improved tourism and visitor center, and a business incubator local businesses can utilize, Sheats said.
“We have been working with Mr. Chapman, the current owner, on this plan for the last nine months and are presently in an extremely equitable rental agreement with him,” said Foundation board member and Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce President Missy Evans.
Evans said they plan to work with local companies such as Sonoco and Cerrowire to set up resource centers on the first floor. Maze said having those resources accessible to the public will benefit businesses looking to hire new employees.
The first phase, Sheats said, began Monday “with a goal of raising $200,000 as soon as possible to secure the ownership of the building.” “Phase two will focus on establishing the funding for building renovations and the resources needed to execute the associated programs. Discussions on the launch of phase two are ongoing and will be a focus of the board of directors in 2023.”
Maze said the renovation costs will be around $1 million to refurbish the first floor and basement of the 7,000-square-foot post office. So far, the Foundation has raised $5,100 for the project.