By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Saturday’s second annual Loft Tour will shed light on downtown Gainesville living — using a trio of lofts in an “open house” format to raise money for local students.
The tour is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For a $5 admission, available on site, visitors are led through three occupied loft apartments at California and Dixon streets; Commerce and Elm streets; and a Commerce Street unit on the downtown square.
Organizer Chad Henderson said his own apartment is included in the trio and he compared the event to the holiday-themed historic home tours conducted in Gainesville during the fall. Whitney Galubenski and Johnny and Mary Lou Leftwich occupy the other two lofts.
“A lot of people don’t really know that people live downtown and the lofts are all so unique,” he said Thursday. “People put a lot of time and money into it and make them really nice and special.”
Henderson said the Gainesville loft count is less than 15 and the units range in size and price; his own home spans 1,700 square feet.
But he added that the event is simply displaying something exceptional, not showing it off.
“They stay filled, because people either buy them and live there permanently or use them as apartments,” he said. “But it’s not that it’s an elite thing. It’s just that there’s not a bunch of them.”
Henderson said all proceeds will go straight to the Gainesville High School junior class fund, helping them pay for senior-year events such as their prom.
The 2012 tour was free, he said, and the turnout was strong enough to make him think it could be monetized to some benefit.
“I thought we could donate it to the GHS junior class,” he said. “It’s my alma mater and I thought it would be a nice thing to do. ... Everybody needs money around here in all kinds of organizations. And we’re hoping to make this an annual event on the weekend before the Medal of Honor events.”
Henderson said another justification for the four-hour tour is that because it occurs downtown, it doubles as an automatic promotion for nearby businesses and restaurants.
“It’s also to drive commerce and give people another reason to visit,” he said.
During the tour, Gainesville High School juniors will conduct ticket sales at the lofts, working the doors.
And Henderson said he expects a much bigger crowd than the first time around, based on what he saw when that happened.
“It was a Thursday night, about 45 degrees and raining,” he said. “And we had at least 100 people, and it was with not very much promotion. And now I’m looking at the weather on Saturday and it’s going to be awesome.”