ULI North Florida’s event Moving Dirt! Impactful Projects Happening Now in Gainesville

Front Street was delighted to be a part of last week’s Urban Land Institute North Florida’s event, “Moving Dirt! Impactful Projects Happening Now in Gainesville.” The event was held at Santa Fe College this past Thursday, December 3rd. The new local ULI chapter is chaired by Nick Banks, managing director of Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group, and its members are comprised of land use and development professionals. At this event, major projects currently underway in Alachua County were presented by panelists, and we then opened the floor to questions from the audience. The panel discussed how each of these projects will benefit our city and answered engaging questions from the audience. Feedback from the event has been wonderful and we are all looking forward to the next opportunity to meet! 

A big thanks to our sponsors for this event; Scherer Construction and ETM, Inc., and to Santa Fe College for graciously hosting us! Here’s a little more information on the projects that were reviewed. 

Dave Stockman of SHD Development discussed Celebration Pointe. With a dynamic mix of outlet retail, dining, office, residential and entertainment, Celebration Pointe offers a welcoming, walkable environment where Gainesville residents and tourists alike can celebrate life moments. Celebration Pointe will encompass outlet retail, restaurant, office, residential, hotel, an entertainment stage, town center, open green space and direct access to the Archer Braid Trail. 

It will occupy approximately 225 acres at the Northwest quadrant of Interstate 75 and Archer Road. Anchor tenants will include Bass Pro Shops and Regal Cinemas. Hotel Indigo will serve as Celebration Pointe’s premier hotel, with 137 rooms and InfoTech will open its world headquarters with 200+ office employees. Nearly 1,000 luxury apartment units are being programmed and 100 acres of the project are also being set aside as permanent conservation areas. Dave also explained that future phases will include the development of additional residential units, outparcels and office space. For more information on Celebration Pointe, and to see office space currently available for lease click here

Butler Plaza North

Cory Presnick of Butler Enterprises presented information on Butler Plaza, specifically Butler Plaza North. Cory explained the Butler Plaza North project will offer an additional 758,000 square feet of destination and convenience shopping. The Butler North expansion will add and additional 1,200,000 square feet of retail space, 400 hotel rooms, and 200,00 square feet of office space. A large Sam’s Club and a Walmart Super Center are the first confirmed anchors for the Butler North. Both stores are expected to open in 2016. Butler Enterprises is negotiating with many national retailers and restaurants that would potentially add new concepts to the Gainesville market.

Depot Park

Cindi Harvey of Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency discussed the plans for Depot Park located at South Main Street and Depot Avenue. Depot Park will be the gateway to central Gainesville and provide a space for public outdoor enjoyment unique to the city. The park will offer community residents opportunities to experience the renovated historic train depot, enjoy a system of walking paths, and participate in family activities at several children’s areas. Visitors will enjoy a Water’s Edge Promenade, lawns and gardens, and a main pavilion called “the Barbacoa”.  It will also feature park pathways and a children’s play area. The vision for Depot Park is to create a contemporary public greenspace that will serve as Gainesville’s “Central Park”. We’re really excited to see the project come to fruition! 

Envision Alachua

Kevin Coulson of Waymaker Communications presented information for Envision Alachua. David Coffey, P.A. was also in attendance. Kevin explained that Envision Alachua is a community-based planning process that seeks to create vibrant and sustainable future use of Plum Creek lands located in eastern Alachua County. Envision Alachua responds directly to the needs and goals expressed by the public creating opportunities for jobs and education, protecting natural lands and conserving valuable resources. Alachua County is poised to evolve from a small college town to a prosperous university city. Working together can ensure that our community will thrive for generations to come. Front Street is proud to support Plum Creek and Envision Alachua! For more information about Envision Alachua, or to get involved, click here.

Infinity Hall

Kirsten Stuver of CAM, Signet-Enterprises explained the upcoming plans for Infinity Hall. This entrepreneurial living and learning community is located in the heart of Innovation Square and offers student innovators unparalleled access to the tools and resources for their own entrepreneurial journey. Infinity Hall operates for 12 months of the year and connects academic coursework, internship experiences, professional and peer mentorship, and experiential learning to create a dynamic academic and business incubation environment. We know that not all learning happens in the classroom. Students who live in Infinity Hall have the flexibility to take one semester off from classes to focus on their career, give back to the community and to be innovative! 

Innovation Hub

Jane Muir of University of Florida was up next and presented a bit about Innovation Hub. Innovation Hub is a state-of-the-art lab with office space, and an elite program available only to applicants selected for admission. The idea behind Innovation Hub stems off of bringing together creative people and infuses everything from the design of the building to the workshops, panel discussions, receptions and other events that make this incubator program unique. Startup companies accepted to the Innovation Hub have access to events such as lunch-and-learn workshops about perfecting your elevator pitch, panel discussions and receptions with venture capitalists, yoga classes and softball games. They can consult with mentors-in-residence, professionals, and each other. Since the building opened, startup companies have created 760 jobs, contributing to the local economy. 

Park Avenue at Santa Fe

Jason Robertson of Urban Habitats presented information about Park Avenue at Santa Fe. This mixed-use project features 298 luxury multi- family residential units, retail space, as well as professional and medical office space. Project serves Santa Fe College with an enrollment of approximately 16,000 students, AvMed’s Health Park and a new 120,000 sf UF Health medical facility for Shands. The groundbreaking for this project was held on September 24th, 2015. Occupying the 27 acres at the southwest corner of NW 39th Ave. and 83rd Ave., this Traditional Neighborhood Development project will be the first of its kind under the county’s newly accepted land development code. For more information about Park Avenue at Santa Fe, and to see commercial space now available for lease, click here!

Power District Redevelopment

Andrew Meeker of the Community Redevelopment Agency presented on the Power District Redevelopment. As GRU (Gainesville Regional Utilities) transitions its operations into its new headquarters, over 16 acres of land in the heart of the city becomes open for redevelopment. Located in the Power District, a funky, eclectic part of the city poised for resurgence, this area enjoys a prime location adjacent to Downtown, Depot Park, and historic in-town neighborhoods. Reintegrating former utility yards back into the fabric of the community is a huge redevelopment challenge; once executed, it will strengthen our urban neighborhoods and provide tremendous economic development benefits to the entire community. Much work is underway to help ensure successful, thoughtful redevelopment in the Power District. 

Santa Fe Blount Center

Dug Jones of Santa Fe College was up next, and discussed the Santa Fe Blount Center. In addition to offering college and GED-preparation courses, the Blount Center also serves as an outreach and educational facility for citizens in Gainesville and surrounding communities. Center faculty and staff deliver training programs for business, industry and employees of city and county government. The center houses free meeting rooms for civic, business and professional groups.

This urban hub is ideally located for both east and west Gainesville residents. With campus only steps away from shopping, businesses and the University of Florida, the Blount Center makes it easy to take a class during a lunch break or get your education while others deal with rush hour traffic. 

Due to the phenomenal growth of business, IT and entrepreneurial activities in downtown Gainesville, Santa Fe College has plans to expand the Blount Center to better serve residents and businesses in the area and improve partnerships. A three-story 50,000 square-foot facility is proposed on the site of the current Santa Fe College Blount Center. The current center, which has reached its operating capacity, was originally a 1950s retail building with 8,000 square feet that has been remodeled as a business incubator. In addition, the Blount Center will assume a larger role in collaborating with the University of Florida on its commitments to innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Standard

Nick Banks presented a bit about The Standard on behalf of Andrew Young of Landmark Properties. This 426 unit, 1,200 bed student housing community is located just blocks from the University of Florida at the corner of SW 13th Street and W University Ave. The Standard will feature approximately 60,000 square feet ground-floor retail and restaurant space, a 142-room select-service hotel, and a parking garage. The project is set to commence construction during the spring of 2015 with delivery slated for fall 2017. The Standard will feature more than 20 unique floor plans, including studio, one, two, three, four, five and six-bedroom units. The project will offer on-site management, two rooftop pools, resident centers with 24-hour study lounges, a spa, game room, golf simulator, racquetball courts and a state-of-the-art fitness facility. 

UF Health 

Brad Pollitt of UF Health wrapped up the project presentations, discussing UF Health expansion plans. The UF Health expansion will feature and additional 500,00 square feet, will bring 400 high-paying jobs as well as 2,000 construction jobs to Gainesville and that is just the beginning. The new specialty tower will be located on UF Health’s south campus, just east of Archer Road near the visitor parking lot for the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital, and will likely feature about 240 beds. The neuromedicine and cardiovascular hospitals will provide state-of-the-art care to patients with neurologic, neurosurgical, heart or vascular conditions and will include approximately 18 state-of-the-art operating rooms and intensive care units, along with complementary outpatient facilities. This growth will help Gainesville transform from a college town to a university city by utilizing the preeminence of UF Health. 

This is a very exciting time for Gainesville. It was great to see so many professionals and different sectors come together in the spirit of expansion and growth of our great City. Turn out for this event was fantastic, and only proves that the momentum and commitment to Alachua County growth and development are stronger than ever.

Thanks again to our sponsors; Scherer Construction and ETM, Inc., thanks to Santa Fe College for graciously hosting us. A big thanks to Business in the Heart of Florida Magazine and Advantage Publishing for photos and documentation for this event. And thanks to The Gainesville Sun for their coverage in the article entitled “Ongoing building projects will pave way for more, group says”. For more information on ULI North Florida, upcoming events and how you can get involved, click here. Or click here for more Front Street news… 


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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