On Tuesday, the Gainesville City Council is set to vote on two items that would help shape Gainesville’s midtown—the purchase of land owned by Koch Foods and new regulations on uses in the area. The city also hopes to build a business park on Allen Creek Road and will consider a request for a local company to expand its property.
Property acquisition of Koch Foods
The council will vote Tuesday on whether to purchase 41 acres of land in Gainesville Industrial Park West from Koch Foods after Koch did not develop the land according to its previous agreement with the city.
In 2006, Koch purchased the land from the city under the condition that the poultry company would begin work on the property within two years of the purchase and finish improvements within one year of starting.
Koch received a one-year extension for development in 2008, allowing the company to begin work in August 2009. Then, in 2009, Koch got another extension until August 2011. Koch got another extension in 2011, this time with the condition that work would start in August 2013. Koch’s final extension, granted in 2013, gave the company an extension until August 2014.
The land has still not been developed.
In July, the city filed a lawsuit against Koch in the Hall County Superior Court, claiming a breach of the real estate contract.
To settle the dispute, Koch has agreed to sell the property back to the city for $1.8 million. The city sold it to Koch in 2006 for $1.6 million, but Koch has since made some improvements to the land.
The money for the purchase will come from the city’s economic development fund, City Manager Bryan Lackey said. While that fund does include some taxpayer dollars, he said, it is largely funded by the city’s land sales.
Lackey said because of the demand for industry Gainesville is seeing, the city is not expecting to hold on to the land for too long.
Koch did not return a request for comment.
Midtown Overlay Zone regulations
The city may adapt its land development code to prohibit some uses in its Midtown Overlay Zone, which is bordered by the Norfolk Southern railroad, E.E. Butler Parkway and Jesse Jewell Parkway.
The new ordinance would prohibit several uses in the area, including liquor stores, coin laundry facilities, homeless shelters, extended stay hotels and jails.
Planning staff has also recommended limiting where gas stations can go in the overlay zone, and details are under discussion.
Existing uses that would be prohibited under the new ordinance are allowed to stay, according to Planning Manager Matt Tate.
Hydro Extruder expansion
Hydro’s extrusion plant on Old Oakwood Road may be expanding, if the council approves the company’s request to annex about 22 acres of land adjacent to the current Hydro property.
Hydro employs about 400 people locally. The two properties included in the request are on either side of the current plant, which was built in 1986.
Attorney Donnie Hunt, who spoke on behalf of the company at an Oct. 9 planning board meeting, said the company has been interested in the land for a while. Hydro is buying the land now that it is on the market but does not have immediate plans for expansion, he said.
No one spoke in opposition to the proposal on Oct. 9.
Hydro would submit plans to the city when they do decide to develop the land.
The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board recommended approval of the request.
Business park on Allen Creek Road
Gainesville wants to build a 1,300-acre business park on land the city has owned since 1990, and on Tuesday, councilmembers will vote to start the permitting process for the land.
The land is on Allen Creek Road near the Allen Creek Soccer Complex.
The business park will be divided into 20 lots, and the city wants to use one for equipment storage.
Gainesville needs permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop the land because it has flood plains and ponds. The city also wants to build a trail through the business park, connecting to the soccer complex.
Gainesville City Council
When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6
Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway