Tioga Town Center: A Brand of New Urbanism That Works

Tioga Town Center is quickly becoming a residential, retail, and entertainment hub of Gainesville. With upper-level apartments, Gainesville Health and Fitness, office spaces, and popular restaurants and bars like Sabore and World of Beer, Tioga Town Center is an excellent place to live, work and play. Click here to find out more about Tioga Town Center and how you can lease retail or office space. 

By Michael Stone | The Gainesville Sun

Gil Levy's vision for the future of Tioga Town Center in Jonesville is straightforward: adding two buildings of apartments and businesses to the current seven-structure complex.

Gil Levy, president of Tioga Town Center, says the combination of having businesses on the bottom floor with apartments upstairs is "new urbanism that is taking hold across the country."

With an expected price tag climbing toward $12 million, the construction would be further evidence that the "new type of neighborhood," as Levy calls it, can profit and endure.

The combination of having businesses on the bottom floor with apartments upstairs is "new urbanism that is taking hold across the country," the 55-year-old said, a one-stop shop where the hassles of the road end with the workday because the gym, the food and the drink are a few steps away.

"This concept is taking hold all over the country," said Levy, the center's president since its 2004 opening.

A native of Puerto Rico, Levy first came to Gainesville in 1981 by way of banking. He has a background as a federal banking regulator, working for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for 11 years, and he has served as a lender for a few area banks.

He got involved with Tioga while working on a board with one of the center's original developers, Miguel Diaz. Diaz and his son, Luis, sold their part of the center to Levy and partners Horst and Luisa Ferrero in 2010 but remain over the neighboring Town of Tioga residential area.

Since getting involved with the Tioga center, Levy said he has received a different view of the industry.

"As a regulator, I was overseeing the loan function. As a lender, I was making loans to commercial developers," Levy said. "And now I'm a developer, so I'm still within the same industry, just from the third leg of the table."

And that leg has had no expense spared, with total development costs for the current town center approaching $30 million.

It's just the right kind of luxury for Mitch Blanton. The 51-year-old said he doesn't mind paying top dollar for the amenities, the know-your-name service of the restaurants, and the overall quality of his three-bedroom apartment.

"There's nothing inexpensive about it," the 24-year Gainesville resident said. "And you don't have to look long to see that."

A salesman of construction equipment, Blanton's clients turn down his offers to travel to them because they'd rather come enjoy Tioga's dining options.

"Some of my best days," he said, "I don't even have to leave the Town Center."

Recently, the options have grown. World of Beer opened in early May, making it the 40th in the franchise. Co-owner Tom Poppa said the other area locations just weren't right.

Poppa said much of midtown's and downtown's business "is seasonal, some of the kids come in and out, and some of the buildings didn't fit what we were looking for."

Levy noted some other recent changes: Affiliated Engineers consulting firm began calling one of Tioga's office spaces home in July, the 352 online media company will do the same after remodeling a suite and Fluid spirits bar is set to open any day now.

Meanwhile, Levy is also a partner in the development of Jonesville Plaza, located about a half mile from Tioga on Newberry Road. Campus Credit Union and Walgreens have already been operating there, while Ace Hardware just broke ground.

As for the two additional buildings at Tioga, Levy said they'll be like the two currently surrounding the center's square — with the first floor for retail, and the second and third for apartments. But, he said, these are just in the planning stages.

They could potentially bring some breathing room to the waiting list of hopeful Tioga apartment renters.

"They've stayed virtually 100 percent occupied," Levy said. "We've had no problem."

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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