Shaping a Vision

A Gainesville Sun article highlighted some of the tension surrounding Plum Creek’s Envision Alachua initiative. Plum Creek is seeking to change Alachua County’s master plan to permit the development of some 10,500 residential units and 15.5 million square feet of commercial space in eastern Alachua County. There are two things important to note.

First, Plum Creek is currently permitted to build upwards of 9,400 residential units with no changes to the comprehensive plan. Under current guidelines, however, Plum Creek wouldn’t be able to make the development nearly as sustainable or add many of the conservation measures they seek. Second, it’s worth noting the economic gap between East and West Gainesville. The proposed plan would greatly increase economic opportunity for East Gainesville, and pull future development east, away from overbuilt areas in West Gainesville.

According to the article, the four workshops that took place this past month have been more of the same. That is, more of the county offering a laundry list of criticisms, while failing to offer options or remedies to Plum Creek. It is rare a company is so enthusiastic about letting the community shape their vision, but as it stands the local government is stifling this effort.

The article suggests the county provide choices to the community, to allow citizens to decide what’s best for the future of Alachua County. Plum Creek has made it clear they are willing to listen, compromise, and reform in order to meet the needs of the community. It is the commission’s job to ensure the community has ample opportunity to voice their opinions to Plum Creek.

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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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