Construction on Innovation Square is underway! There are already a number of great local and national businesses located in Innovation Square. Innovation Square is ideal for any business looking to be in a great location between Downtown Gainesville and the University of Florida.
By Thomas Lynn | The Independent Florida Alligator
Construction on two roads that will form the backbone of the 40-acre Innovation Square project is underway.
By the end of April, Southwest Ninth Street and Southwest Third Avenue will converge at the lot near the university across from Southwest 13th Street where the Alachua General Hospital once stood.
The roads will establish a walkable grid for businesses moving closer to UF and will increase the partnership between downtown and UF, according to an email from Josh Steppling, who is in charge of communications at Trimark Properties, a Gainesville development company.
“A framework is being created to facilitate the creation of local businesses and the relocation of businesses outside of Gainesville,” Steppling said.
Ed Poppell, an Innovation Square organizer, said the first building on the site — the Innovation Hub — houses 26 startup companies with technologies developed by UF students.
The goal is to help the area expand even more, and the first step is to have an accessible grid system in place, he said. This is where the roads come in.
“You have to have roads before you can continue development,” Poppell said. “We contributed the land, and (the city) agreed to build them.”
The roads, funded by the city, are an investment to increase the tax base and turn the former hospital grounds into a place where students and industries can come together.
“The benefits that Gainesville has that makes it competitive and draws businesses is its high quality of life and a major university to draw from,” Poppell said.
Getting a space inside the Hub is competitive, said Jane Muir, director of the Innovation Hub. There are a number of ways a startup will find its way into the Hub.
Some come from companies that have been founded by students or graduates, and others are from companies that have licensed discoveries coming out of the university, Muir said.
With the Hub reaching about 90 percent capacity in just over two years, the program is on track to expand.
After the roads are completed, Muir said, she hopes to construct more buildings to accommodate more space for incubating businesses in Gainesville.
Apartments, dry cleaners, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses could also be future tenants in the area of the district.