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Monday October 22nd, 2018 2:41PM

Gainesville Council excited as downtown gets ready to grow

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter

GAINESVILLE – “We are off to the races,” Gainesville City Councilman Zach Thompson said.  “Buckle up!”

Thompson and his fellow council members had just heard a presentation from Assistant City Manager Angela Sheppard at their Thursday morning work session about four requests to use Tax Allocation District (TAD) funding for projects ready to take place in downtown Gainesville over the next several months.

Those projects include:  (Click on photo to the left to access images referenced below.)

  1. A $664,550 renovation of the JOMCO building at 808 S. Main Street (images 2 and 3)

  2. A $284,500 renovation of the former Millikan Attorney building - once a Texaco gas station – at 400 Jesse Jewel Parkway to create an outdoor-seating “Service Station-style” restaurant (images 4-6)

  3. A $17.1-million multi-story retail/office building by Carroll Daniel Construction at 330 Main Street with as many as 200 employees (images 7-9)

  4. A $21.6-million multi-story luxury condominium/retail/restaurant development at 106 Spring Street by Knight Commercial Real Estate, also known as the “Old Belk Lot” along the south side of the Gainesville Square, including a flyover bridge connecting the new structure with the city’s parking deck and a “Pocket Park” connecting the building with Roosevelt Square (images 10-13)

“TAD financing is meant to provide some sort of gap-financing or it’s meant to provide the additional financing to make projects happen,” Sheppard explained.  “The project wouldn’t happen without these TAD funds, or the project wouldn’t have happened to as high a level of quality without these TAD funds.”

“We feel like all of these applications really hit that mark…without this TAD financing the projects wouldn’t be possible,” Sheppard added.

“Over the past eleven years we’ve had six (TAD) projects,” Thompson said, “and here we are in 2018 and we’ve got four.”

“This is going to continue to generate some economic activity in the city of Gainesville,” Sheppard said.

City Manager Bryan Lackey said regarding the ability for a municipality such as Gainesville to create TAD Zones: “The state allowed local governments to do (TAD Zones) over ten years ago.  Without that tool in our tool belt this would just not happen, not to the quality we’re looking at; we’d be talking about a strip-center wanting to go in there and putting a couple of retail units in; it wouldn’t be to this magnitude.”

Councilwoman Barbara Brooks said, “What we’re going to see, a finished product, is really going to please the eye…especially the old Millikan office building, that thing has been so ugly for so long.”

Councilman Sam Couvillon agreed with Brooks.  “That’s the smallest TAD (request) but…the improvement to that building alone…is going to make a big impact.”

The quartet of resolutions providing TAD funds for the downtown projects will be decided Tuesday by the city council at their voting session, 5:30 in the Gainesville Public Safety Complex on Queen City Parkway.

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