Butler Plaza Expansion Could Be Defining Moment For Gainesville

Hundreds of people gathered behind Butler Plaza last month to celebrate the groundbreaking of the huge expansion that is underway. Some of the notable attendees included Mayor Ed Brady as well as the President of Butler Enterprises, Deborah Butler. The groundbreaking ceremony overlooked the next addition to Butler Plaza, called Butler North. It has been nearly 15 years in the making and will add roughly 758,000 square-feet of space to the already enormous project, bringing the total area to roughly 2 million square feet. This addition will be followed by the redevelopment of the eastern part of the project, which will create an open-air concept shopping center. Negotiations for many spaces at Butler North are still ongoing, however the company has already announced that Walmart will relocate there from its current Butler Plaza location. The local Sam’s Club will also be relocating there from it’s location on NW 13th Street. 

Arriving with his family in 1939 to open a produce stand, Clark Butler (father of current company President Deborah Butler) would go on to develop housing such as Windmeadows apartments as well as donate land for new roads. Starting in 1975 with only 83,000 square feet on the old Stengel Field dirt airstrip, the original Butler Plaza would grow to 1 million square feet in the 1990s, with growth still continuing today. According to Butler Enterprises, upon completion, their latest expansion is expected to create 3,500 permanent jobs (on top of 1,500 construction jobs), with an economic impact of nearly $300 million dollars each year. The expansion will cost roughly 186 million dollars, with retailers beginning to open in Butler North as early as 2016.

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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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