The former Coca-Cola bottling plant located at 1625 N. Palafox St., just north of downtown Pensacola, has a new owner.
David Fetter and Bill Wunnenberg, owners of Industrial Energy Services, Inc. and Illumadyne, an LED lighting company, recently purchased the historic building marketed exclusively by Fred Gunther of Gunther Properties.
“We intend to honor the full contours of the founder and past businesses while integrating the modern equipment, processes, culture and people of our companies,” Fetter said. “We are hopeful that the revived functionality and commerce at the facility will help leverage and bridge the vibrancy from the downtown to the corridor further North on Palafox.”
The building, originally constructed in 1936, will house both IES and Illumadyne. Fetter and Wunnenberg are planning an adaptive re-use of the facility and restoration of the primary architectural elements of the building.
“This was an exciting transaction as we had several parties interested in demolishing the building but were able to find a buyer that is planning to save it, which was the owner’s preference.” Fred Gunther said.
“This building offers distinct architecture, especially for a building constructed during the Great Depression, so it is a real asset to this community. The fact that the new owners are a ‘green’ company which will be creating jobs in the City of Pensacola is an added bonus.”
IES was formed in 2005 and is a specialized electrical contractor which delivers turn-key energy efficient lighting services for commercial and industrial clients throughout the country.
Illumadyne is an LED lighting fixture manufacturer and has been in business since 2008.
“I was very pleased to learn that this historical asset in the City of Pensacola will be saved by its new owners, while also bringing new job opportunities to the city,” Mayor Grover Robinson said. “I consider it a win anytime a piece of Pensacola’s history can be preserved, and I’m looking forward to seeing this beautiful piece of architecture brought back to life in our community.”
IES and Illumadyne recently purchased production equipment which will expand their in-house capabilities and put the companies one step closer to producing all major components of their equipment in the United States. The investment of this equipment required an expansion of their physical plant. Fetter noted their current office in the Palafox Industrial Park and is not large enough to house the equipment to permit their goal of producing a truly “made In America” product.
“Our search for a new facility lasted only one day and concluded quickly after walking through the Coca Cola building for the first time,” Fetter said. “Despite the age and wear and tear of the facility, it is truly a remarkable structure with significant historical value to Pensacola. It is a privilege to have taken ownership of this facility and to be part of writing the next chapter of the story for this lovely building and all that it means to the Rainwater Family, the thousands of employees that have worked in the facility and the local community who have agonized over what the future may bring for a facility which many have a deep connection.”
Fetter said the companies are prepared to offer tours at select times through this process and hope to have a public open house once the restoration is complete.