SLO Chamber of Commerce moving to new building downtown

After 42 years at the same downtown location, the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce is moving.

The chamber and the Visitors Center are expected to move early next year to 895 Monterey St., on the corner of Monterey and Morro streets in the historic Paiarola building.

The decision to move was prompted by a planned 2013 seismic retrofit of the building at the chamber’s current location on Chorro Street near Higuera Street. The chamber will remain there until the move next year.

The new location will be fully accessible, provide greater visibility for its tourism component and have a larger meeting room for chamber members.

The 700-square-foot Visitors Center is planned to face Monterey Street, with administrative offices also on the first floor.

The new site on Monterey formerly housed Ann’s clothing store. Luna Rustica currently has a downtown showroom there; its larger warehouse and showroom will remain on Broad Street. Its owner said it will seek another storefront downtown.

“The seismic retrofit prompted us to look at how we could improve visibility for the Visitors Center to benefit the tourism industry and at the same time see whether we could improve the accessibility and efficiency of our administrative offices,” Russ Levanway, chamber board chairman and CEO of TekTegrity, said in a news release. “We are confident that we have found a new location that meets all of the goals set by the board and will provide the chamber with all the best of our existing space with some much-needed improvements.”

The chamber board voted unanimously to make a permanent move following an analysis by a special facilities task force, which looked at several options, including keeping the Visitors Center at its current space and moving the administrative offices out of the downtown core, according to a news release.

“Our current location and landlord have served us well for over four decades,” chamber President and CEO Ermina Karim said. “Now, given the availability of 895 Monterey, we have the opportunity to serve visitors better, as well as to provide more services to our members.

“We look forward to creating new memories (as we) build on our brand and, most importantly, enhance service for our members and visitors,” she added.

Karim would not disclose how much would be spent on tenant improvements before the chamber moves into the building or reveal the length of the long-term lease.

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