Things looking up locally for commercial real estate

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Many exciting changes are in Gainesville's immediate future! New projects will include commercial construction, creation of student housing, new retailers and restaurants, as well as comprehensive mixed-use projects. Front Street is thrilled and honored to be a part of this exciting growth in our area. Front Street's very own Nick Banks discusses these upcoming developments in Gainesville below...


By Anthony Clark | The Gainesville Sun

The new year is bringing a number of changes to the commercial real estate landscape in Gainesville, with several construction projects underway or expected to start in the coming months. There are businesses on the move and pending deals promising more changes to come.  

The changes indicate continued slow improvement in the economy, with credit loosening for certain types of projects and more retailers ready to close deals, developers and Realtors say.

College Park

Some of the biggest changes are coming to the College Park area north of the University of Florida, with two large mixed-use projects ready to move forward after years of planning, in addition to the 10-story University Corners project that is awaiting a decision on tax incentives from the City Commission.

-- One College Park, which is being renamed Midtown, received city Development Review Board approval in November for an amended development plan to build a six-story apartment complex and parking garage with first-floor retail on the entire city block that includes the St. Augustine Catholic Church parking lot between Northwest First and Second avenues and 17th and 18th streets. Oscar Roger of Coral Gables-based Roger Development Group said he hopes to start construction in April or May. Construction is expected to take 14 to 16 months.

Originally proposed in 2009, the new plan replaces a hotel with more student apartments and includes a house on the southeast corner that was not acquired until May 2013.

Roger said the project was delayed because "the market was terrible." Lending markets opened up for apartments last year but banks are requiring 50 percent or more down on new hotels, which is why Roger said they dropped the plan for the hotel.

Buying the corner property added about 100 more beds and 2,000 square feet of retail space, he said. The rest of the property is currently owned by the Diocese of St. Augustine.

Midtown will include 56 apartment units with 270 rooms, 16,240 square feet of ground floor retail and a 610-space parking garage.

Roger said the retailers will include a few restaurants, a convenience store and a computer/mobile phone store.

-- The six-level parking garage for Roberts' Stadium Club opened Dec. 18 with 6,000 square feet of first-floor retail space available on the southwest corner of Northwest 18th Street and First Avenue.

Property Manager Susan Schoen said they have numerous prospects for the retail space including small restaurants and clothing stores. The Stadium Club has also finalized use of a 2,000-square-foot office and is finalizing terms for use of a 2,500-square-foot office, both for "university student-related services."

The garage has 79 spaces and is open to the public.

-- A mixed-use redevelopment project planned for the 300 block on the east side of Northwest 13th Street is seeking City Commission approval to amend plans approved in 2012. The changes would lower the project from eight stories to six, remove 20,000 square feet of second-floor office space, increase the number of apartments from 168 to 202, add a parcel at 1226 NW Third Ave. and allow the maximum building height to extend farther toward the residential area to the east instead of gradually stepping down.

The project would also include 26,000 square feet of street-level retail.

The change received initial approval by a 5-1 vote of the City Plan Board in October. A December hearing before the City Commission was postponed until Jan. 16.

Officials with RD Management of New York, the developer, could not be reached for comment.


-- A new building to house a Panera Bread and Mattress Firm is under construction at 6111 Newberry Road. The parcel was carved out of the property that will include the new Hobby Lobby and sold to a Delray Beach developer.

-- Hobby Lobby submitted an application Dec. 23 for an $890,000 interior build-out of the former Stein Mart.

-- The new 1,200-square-foot building nearing completion in the northwest corner of Magnolia Parke on Northwest 39th Avenue will be a cafe owned by Cliff and Juli Denney.

Denney, whose family developed Magnolia Parke, said the One Love Cafe will open sometime in the first quarter of the year, serving homemade flatbreads, salads and other healthy foods. He previously owned three restaurants in Brevard County.

-- An Ace Hardware is under construction in Jonesville north of the Walgreens on Newberry Road.

-- A new project called Archer Centro West is seeking approval from the city to demolish two buildings at 3543 and 3547 SW Archer Road — including a former Bridgestone tire store — and build an 11,880-square-foot retail center.

The building would include multiple retail tenants and include a drive-thru for a coffee shop or fast food tenant.

-- Construction is nearing completion on the new Dollar General on the former Brasington Cadillac property at 2035 NW 13th St.

-- Road work continues to extend Hull Road west of the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center into the West 38 mixed-use development and site work has begun on apartment buildings.

Construction of a 130-room hotel with a "convention and cultural arts hub" with 50,000 square feet of meeting space will start in June, according to developer NP International.

-- Site work and road construction have begun for the Celebration Pointe mixed-use development near I-75 and Archer Road.

-- Two buildings nearing completion at 3780 NW 16th Blvd. include a church and caretaker's house for the Northwood Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

On the move

-- Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft plans to open Feb. 2 in the former Publix in The Esplanade at Butler Plaza after closing the smaller store at 1220 NW 76th Blvd.

-- The Cox Solutions Store opened in December in The Esplanade at Butler Plaza after closing its location at 2418 N. Main St. The cable-telecom company describes the store as "a one-stop shop to help customers learn how to integrate their Cox services with new technologies, such as iPads and HD digital video recorders." Customers can also exchange equipment, buy accessories and pay their bills.

-- In Hunters Crossing, Deb's Hallmark is closing by the end of the month, Hoggtowne Music is relocating into that space March 1 and Tipple's Brews plans to open a second location in Hoggtowne's current space.

Hoggtowne owner Joe Dorsey said the Hallmark store space will give him 4,600 square feet, about 1,000 more than he is in now.

"I've been renting warehouses and we're kind of cramped," he said.

The owners of Deb's and Tipple's did not return calls Friday.

-- Gator Fitness and Training, home of Gator CrossFit, moved about 100 feet to 6020 NW Fourth Place near Yamato Steakhouse. The 4,400-square-foot space is about 1,000 feet larger, so that it can accommodate growing group training classes, said Aaron Palmer, who owns the business with wife, Mandi.

-- Scissors Salon at 411 SW Second Ave. closed Dec. 31 after 31 years in business. Several stylists relocated to Salon Savoy and one to Debra C. Lewis Inc.

Pending deals

-- Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group is working with a developer who is working with a grocery and a national retailer to build on the vacant northeast parcel in University Towne Center near Archer Road and Southwest 34th Street, according to Managing Partner Nick Banks. Banks said the property owner recently turned down an offer for the property from LA Fitness.

-- Front Street is also in talks with several national retailers interested in the Northwood Shopping Center near the new Walmart Supercenter. The center is being redeveloped and renamed Live Oak Shoppes.

-- Mike Ryals of Bosshardt Realty Services said a national retailer has a contract on the former Scotty's hardware building on Northwest 13th Street near 53rd Avenue. He expects them to complete their due diligence on the 57,000-square-foot building by the end of the month.

Ryals said he has several deals in the works awaiting approvals before he can make any announcements.

"It seems that a lot of stuff is starting to come to the surface," he said.

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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