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Legacy Decatur enters into building lease with Frank Hamilton School

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Legacy Decatur enters into building lease with Frank Hamilton School

The Legacy Decatur Board met virtually on Tuesday, July 6, to discuss a new lease of the Gillespie Building at Legacy Park. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — The Legacy Decatur Board will begin leasing the Gillespie Building at Legacy Park to the Frank Hamilton School on Aug. 1. The board approved the lease during a called meeting on Tuesday, July 6.

The Legacy Decatur Board oversees Legacy Park, formerly known as the United Methodist Children’s Home.

The Frank Hamilton School is a non-profit program that offers primarily adult instruction on traditional American folk music instruments. The program currently operates out of Oakhurst Baptist Church.

The Gillespie Building is known as the education center at Legacy Park and is about 3,200 square feet, said Lyn Menne, executive director for Legacy Park.

Menne said that Legacy Park has been offering $10 per square foot for potential tenants of park buildings, which would mean a lease for the Gillespie Building would be $32,000. But the Frank Hamilton School has offered to pay $24,000 for the first year. They would pay $2,000 a month, which is what the organization pays Oakhurst Baptist Church.

The Legacy Decatur Board approved the lease payment of $24,000 given that the lease is non-exclusive so the building could also be rented out to other groups when it’s not being used by the school. The lease will last for three years with an annual 3% increase.

“So the difference is $8,000 a year and what I was saying is by having a non-exclusive use we’ll be able to rent it out to other groups mostly during the day and some on the weekends when they’re not using it,” Menne said. “So I don’t see a problem with us making up that difference in the first year of this lease. But they’ve also asked for the option to be able to have exclusive, at which point they would take over the rent for the entire building at $32,000.”

She added that the group and the classes seemed like a great fit for the building and adds a program that’s missing at Legacy Park — the arts.

“The building itself, it’s in good shape. It requires very little investment other than the new HVAC system, which we had already budgeted for and we’re going to have to widen a door in one of the existing bathrooms to make it accessible,” Menne said.

There is also one short step in the building that will need a ramp system in order to be handicap accessible, Menne added.

Work has begun to make the improvements, but in the event that it is not completed by the time the school’s classes begin in August, space is available at Leigh Cottage.

Frank Hamilton School board members and students will also contribute time and resources to improving the building by removing invasive plants and maintaining the landscaping, pulling up old carpet in the building, as well as painting and cleaning the interior of the building.

Currently, the Frank Hamilton School offers evening classes Monday through Thursday and doesn’t have the ability, yet, to offer classes during the day, said Maura Nicholson, executive director of the school.

“But once we have a space to be able to bring people in, then we can recruit the teachers that are available during the day as well,” Nicholson said.

The school hopes to offer classes and workshops for those who can’t do a full eight-week program. Nicholson also hopes to offer weekend concerts at the park. Before shifting online during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Frank Hamilton School had about 120 students, Nicholson said.

“We’re really excited about the property there at Legacy park because it looks like it will allow us the opportunity to grow,” Nicholson said. “Having our own space just will allow us so much more opportunity to present to the community and bring music to the community. That’s what we’re all about.”

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