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Column: Gainesville is becoming something to write home about
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

In 2005, I joined the staff of The Times. My first assignment was to cover the Vision 2030 program.

I remember many ideas were floated around. My friend Denise Deal spoke at one meeting about developing the area of the city known as midtown. I wasn’t pessimistic, but I thought it was very ambitious.

Between what was already happening on the downtown square and midtown, we are on the verge of a beautiful city.

There are a couple of places that are offering fresh cut meats and an assortment of sandwiches.They have a number of regional brews and an assortment of wines.

The buildings are creative masterpieces and have the influence of the 1920s and 30s.

A beautiful building is nearing completion on thes square and there are an assortment of eateries and watering holes scattered around the central business district.

When you drive by at meal times, you are likely to see foodies enjoying food and beverage in every direction. 

After World War II, my mama and daddy spent a single honeymoon night in what was then known as the Dixie-Hunt Hotel.

We’re just a few months from the opening of a Courtyard by Marriott on the one side of downtown. On the other side, we will have Bourbon Brothers, a nice entertainment facility.

The engine of the old Gainesville Midland Railroad has been moved down the walking

trail. There are tables and seats with umbrella covers. They have numerous parks and a coming dog park that will open soon.

If you haven’t taken a driving trip down any of the streets leading from Jesse Jewell Parkway, you should. It is really something to see.

The old midtown was an avenue of rusty metal buildings. The revived area has an assortment of buildings that are very pleasing to the eye.

I never doubted that the city would bring the area back to life. It is still in development, but the vision is there and we are going to have a beautiful place to walk, bike or stroll a pet.

I can remember when I moved here over 30 years ago, people wanted to ride up and see places like Helen.

We have some pretty mountain towns, but I believe that people will know about coming here and spending time in our downtown and midtown.

We’re on the verge of a showplace that folks will come and see for themselves.


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns publish weekly.