GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Economic Development Division of the American Planning Association has selected Innovation Square to receive the 2012 Donald E. Hunter Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award.
The award submittal was co-sponsored by four of the project’s major stakeholders — the University of Florida, Shands at UF, City of Gainesville, and the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency — and the urban design and planning consultant, Perkins+Will.
Innovation Square, situated between the UF campus and downtown Gainesville, is a planned mixed-use research neighborhood that is being developed with overwhelming community support and stakeholder collaboration. This urban redevelopment project is expected to transform 12 underutilized blocks in midtown Gainesville into a mixed-use urban research neighborhood that advances the national and global profile of the city’s largest employer — the University of Florida with its medical center, Shands at UF medical center — and the growing local biotech industry.
Unlike the internally focused suburban research parks of the previous decades, Innovation Square aligns the goals of the City of Gainesville and UF to create a livable, walkable, adaptable and sustainable urban research district that will give Gainesville a competitive edge in attracting and retaining the best minds and companies in research.
As UF President Bernie Machen said: “As we envision it, Innovation Square will be unlike anything you’ve seen. In fact, it will be nothing short of a complete re-invention of the town square concept.”
The panel was impressed with the project’s high quality, establishment of a vision that is not only aspirational but implementable, and the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders to create and implement a framework to create a transformative project that will make a lasting contribution to the economic condition of the community. The panel was unanimous in its selection of Innovation Square as the 2012 Award recipient.
The Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award will be presented at the Economic Development Division’s annual meeting and reception on April 16 during the 2012 National Conference of the American Planning Association in Los Angeles.
The Economic Development Division of the APA provides an opportunity for APA members to join others who share an interest in and responsibility on matters related to economic development. The mission of the Economic Development Division is to advance the practice and state of the art of economic development by:
• Increasing the understanding of economic development as a key element of public policy formulation at all levels of government;
• Promoting economic development as a critical element of neighborhood community, regional, and national planning processes;
• Disseminating materials and information about current economic development practice and theory to members of the division;
• Assisting APA in positively influencing economic development policy; and
• Promoting professional communication among members of the division through a variety of member services, including, but not limited to newsletters, web page, conference sessions, workshops and other publications.
The Excellence in Economic Development Award is named for Donald E. Hunter, who died in 2009. He was a longtime and active member of the American Planning Association, always urging greater attention for economic development planning. He was president of Hunter Interests Inc., an award-winning real estate development and consulting firm based in Annapolis, Md.