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Lanier Plaza redevelopment poses traffic problems

POSTED: April 18, 2014 11:28 p.m.

If the Lanier Plaza shopping center on Thompson Bridge Road is redeveloped as proposed into a 42,000-square-foot grocery store and accompanying 12-pump fueling station, it will generate 6,627 daily two-way trips down the Gainesville thoroughfare, according to a traffic study performed in late March. 

The increased traffic associated with the redevelopment also includes 143 new two-way trips during the peak morning rush hour and 310 new two-way trips during the evening rush hour. 

But city planning staff appears to have hedged its bets on whether this impact is problematic.

“When the project is completed these same traffic movements will be further impaired,” staff reports read. “However, northbound and southbound through traffic movements along Thompson Bridge Road will continue to operate at acceptable levels.” 

The traffic study reports that a new signal at the shopping center would improve traffic during the morning and evening rush hours, as would restriping the road for a northbound turn lane into the center. The Georgia DOT would have the authority to approve a new traffic signal at that location. 

According to city staff reports, the Gainesville Police Department supports reviewing additional traffic control measures as a result of the expected increase in motorists. 

The city of Gainesville is fast-tracking a rezoning application so that Hutton, a Tennessee-based developer, can proceed with purchasing and redeveloping Lanier Plaza through its subsidiary, Polestar Development LLC. 

The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board will hold a hearing Tuesday to consider rezoning the property so the redevelopment can proceed. 

Lanier Plaza currently houses the Lanier Laundromat, Sun Spa, United Custom Electronix, El Sombrero Mexican restaurant and Bodyplex Fitness. Several business owners have told The Times they oppose redevelopment of the shopping center and have hired lawyers to fight their imminent evictions. 

Polestar plans to demolish the existing shopping center, but the developer is not acquiring the freestanding building on the property that Blockbuster once occupied. Neither the developer nor city officials would confirm who would operate the grocery store. 

Gainesville planning staff has recommended approval of the project with several conditions, including setbacks and buffers to limit impact on nearby residential and multifamily properties; limiting the building footprint to 50,000 square feet; prohibiting an automotive paint and body repair shop on the property; and requiring any traffic improvements to be paid for by the developer.


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