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City’s Public Safety building on drawing board

Residents make peace with city over Seasons on Lanier

POSTED: August 19, 2008 5:00 a.m.
For The Times/

A rendering of Gainesville's future public safety building, which will house the city's police station as well as the municipal court.

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Representatives of the design firm Heery International presented their plans for the Gainesville’s future police department and municipal court building Thursday morning to the City Council.

The 53,000-square-foot building will stand on the corner of Queen City Parkway and Banks Street, and is designed with room for a 30,000-square-foot expansion, though City Manager Bryan Shuler said he does not expect a need for the addition any time soon.

"That’s one of the things that typically you don’t always think about, and then you find yourself landlocked," Shuler said. "You’ve got room to grow — not that that’s on anybody’s horizon, certainly not mine."

The design is similar to that of Duluth’s public safety building, but is customized to Gainesville’s needs, Shuler said.

Representatives of the design firm said they designed the building in such a way that would make it blend well with other buildings in the city.

"Hopefully, it will start to set a tone for the development of that area," Heery International Vice President Michael Tomy said.

Assistant City Manager Kip Padgett asked the council for $411,400 to complete the design of the future Fire Station No. 1 on the same property. Once the design of the site is complete, the firm will give the city a guaranteed maximum price for the construction of both buildings, Padgett said.

The firm hopes to know the construction cost of the police station by November, but may need more time on the fire station, Padgett said.

City officials are still closing on property purchases for the 13-acre site, which runs along Pine Street from Banks Street to High Street, for a cost that will not exceed $6 million, according to a resolution passed last month.

Seasons residents, council make amends

The homeowners’ association of the Seasons on Lake Lanier development and the Gainesville City Council publicly made peace Thursday morning over a disputed zoning item approved more than two months ago.

The City Council’s 3-2 vote to approve a rezoning of 10 acres of the planned unit development to be used as a RaceTrac gas station came after more than 70 residents of the development vehemently opposed it in planning and City Council meetings.

The final vote in June ended in a shouting match between Seasons residents and City Council members, who were also divided on the issue.

Thursday, however, members of the development’s homeowner’s association attended a City Council work session to bury the hatchet and ask that the council support the homeowner’s association as the bankrupt development comes under the direction of a new developer.

"Our last meeting was, I guess we can say, adversarial, but that sale is done and it’s time to move on," Seasons on Lake Lanier representative John Snyder said. "And we’re here primarily this morning to let you know that we want to become good citizens of the city of Gainesville."

Snyder said the partially developed gated community, which has been in limbo since its original developer, Levitt and Sons, filed for bankruptcy last year, soon may have a new developer.

"That developer will be there for a certain period of time, and then he turns it over to us and we have to maintain the roads," Snyder said.

Snyder asked the city to place the $225,000 the incoming developers promised to give to the city for infrastructure improvements in a long-term fund that would aid in the upkeep of private roads inside the development.

Before the city voted on the rezoning the first time, Jacksonville attorney Keith Daw, representing Wachovia bank, promised to donate $225,000 of the company’s proceeds from the sale of the property to the city for infrastructure.

Shuler said that the developers had approached the city about the donation, but the city had not solicited it.

"The city didn’t include that in a zoning condition ... we’re not legally able to do that," Shuler said. "... The city wasn’t going to take that money and use it; we weren’t going to direct the use of that money."

Shuler said he thought the homeowner’s association should speak with the developer about how the money should be used, but promised a letter of support from the city that the money could be put in a long-term fund to be used for road improvements.



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