Depot Park Groundbreaking Ceremony Wednesday, Sept. 2

Photo credit to Gainesville Police Department PIO Ben Tobias

Information Courtesy of The Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)

Construction on downtown’s eagerly-awaited, 32-acre Depot Park will begin September 2nd! Named after the 1860s-era train station that served as Gainesville’s main railroad hub for 60 years, the urban park will showcase the city’s cultural heritage. 

This $5.9 million park construction phase will include: a football-field sized children’s play area with a Sweetwater Branch Creek-themed splash pad; a water’s edge promenade designed to host food truck rallies, art galleries, festivals and more; outdoor grills and picnic pavilions; dramatic entry features; nature trails and more. 

The Depot Park groundbreaking ceremony will take place at 201 SE Depot Avenue Wednesday, Sept. 2 from 8-10 a.m. A light breakfast provided by The Wooly, and Sweetwater Organic Coffee will be served. The event will feature a live performance from children’s band Bears and Lions, as well as exhibits from the Florida Community Design Center’s POP GNV program, Pure Energy Solar, Oelrich Construction, Bike Florida, the City of Gainesville Public Works Department, the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), Regional Transit System (RTS) and Visit Gainesville.

The schedule for the Groundbreaking on September 2nd is as follows;

8:20 – 8:30 a.m. Good Morning & Introduction (City Manager Russ Blackburn) 
Performance by Bears and Lions Children’s Band
8:30 – 9:00 a.m. Remarks from Depot Park Partners [4 Minutes Each] 
Sarah Vidal-Finn, Interim Director, Gainesville CRA
Gigi Simmons, Chair, Downtown Advisory Board
Pegeen Hanrahan, Former Gainesville Mayor
Ed Bielarski, General Manager, GRU
Teresa Scott, Director, City Public Works Department
Greg Strong, Director, Florida DEP, NE District
Charles “Chuck” Chestnut IV, Chair, Alachua County Commission
Ed Braddy, Mayor, City of Gainesville

This current phase of development, led by the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and managed by Oelrich Construction, will employ 17 subcontracting firms and create more than 115 jobs. The completed park will open to the public in fall 2016. Project financing was supplemented by a mixture of federal, state and regional grants. The park design team includes JBrown Professional Group, JOLA, Inc., Bender & Associates, John Searcy & Associates and Southard Engineering.

“Depot Park will be Gainesville’s next major landmark,” said Gainesville CRA Interim Director Sarah Vidal-Finn. “The park is catalyzing downtown economic growth, preserving local history, restoring critical ecological systems, supporting arts and education, providing prime recreational opportunities for families and adding to our city’s overall quality of life. We’re excited for the future and grateful for the many partners that have contributed to this effort over the years.”

Extensive environmental restoration of the former brownfield site was conducted by the City of Gainesville’s Public Works Department and GRU in previous park development phases. The Gainesville CRA completed restoration of the historic Depot Building in 2012. The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention is on-track with its $9 million fundraising campaign to construct a world-class facility on the west side of Depot Park. 

Depot Park is a collaborative project that has spanned nearly two decades of planning and investment by many partners. The groundbreaking ceremony will honor those who have helped bring Depot Park to fruition, and celebrate this next phase, which will activate the park for public use and set the tone for its future as Gainesville’s iconic central park. 

For more information about Depot Park or to RSVP for the groundbreaking ceremony, please contact CRA Project Manager Nathalie McCrate at or 352-393-8213. Click here to visit the Gainesville CRA website. We hope to see you there!

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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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