By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
A look ahead: 2008 likely to be a year of renovations
Gainesville to revamp parking deck downtown, complete community centers
Placeholder Image
GAINESVILLE — In the coming months, Gainesville will see a new parking deck rising, and the revitalization of some of its recreation areas.

Of the projects city officials expect to undertake this year, the construction of a new, multilevel parking deck with about 420 spaces for the Georgia Mountains Center ranks high on the list.

Architect Steve Hill is working on the design for the new parking deck, and he will present the final plan to the City Council in the next few weeks, said Gainesville City Manager Bryan Shuler.

Hill has submitted at least two other designs for the new parking deck that will add about 200 parking spaces to the current parking deck. There were concerns though, when Hill’s designs called for the parking deck to extend over the entrance to the Georgia Mountains Center.

"So you would enter the mountains center from Main Street going under the second level of the parking deck," Shuler explained.

Some worried that the covered entrance would affect the aesthetics of the mountains center. But Shuler said the covered walkway may stay in the plan, because it maximizes the potential of the parking deck.

"If you did not add that addition on to it, you’d probably lose 40 or 50 parking spaces," Shuler said.

Previously, Hill said the construction of the deck would take about six months, and would cost about $6 million. The final cost estimate should come with the submission of the final design in the next few weeks.

If City Council gives Hill the go-ahead to look for a contractor for his new design, Shuler said construction on the new deck should begin by early April, but it could be sooner.

"It just depends on the bids and the process and finalizing the design plans," Shuler said.

Since the plan requires razing the old deck to build the new one in its place, the city will have to create a temporary parking area for use during the six months of demolition and construction. Work on the temporary lot could start as soon as February.

In August, the city purchased the Greater South Supply Co. property at 320 Maple St. When the city takes possession of the property in February, the building will be demolished to make room for a temporary lot with some 80 to 90 parking spaces.

"That’s not necessarily designed to be a long-term use of that property, but certainly minimally during the construction of the deck," Shuler said.

Also early this year, two major community center projects are expected to be completed.

The Frances Meadows Center should be finished in June or July, and Shuler said the Fair Street Neighborhood Center should be completed in spring. The Meadows center will feature a 10-lane, indoor competition pool; a four-lane, indoor therapy pool; an outdoor pool with spray fountains, slides and flowing current; an activity building with 10,400 square feet of meeting space plus a catering kitchen; and restrooms, locker rooms, so-called wet rooms and offices. The cost is in excess of some $16 million, and is funded by a special purpose local option sales tax approved in 1999.

The site plan for the Fair Street Center features a catering kitchen, outdoor terrace and a connection to a park. The roughly 4,300-square-foot
building will have space for receptions and for holding programs, family reunions and civic meetings. The Fair Street Center project cost some $740,000.

"Those are two of our most significant building sites," Shuler said.

And the restoration of an old swimming hole could give Gainesville residents a deeper enjoyment of Longwood Park this year.

Early this year, the city will begin restorative work on Longwood Cove at Longwood Park. The cove, which used to have enough water to support a boat dock, is so full of silt that one can walk across it, said Paul Krippner, project manager in the construction services division of Gainesville’s Public Utilities Department.

The silt has been blamed on construction projects at Lakeshore Mall and along John Morrow Parkway.

The city could choose a contractor for the project in the next couple of weeks. Krippner expects construction to begin at the park by mid-February.

The $2 million dredging project will include construction of a retaining wall and an extension of a trail from downtown Gainesville into Longwood Park.

The project should take a little more than three months to complete once work begins.

When it is complete, people will be able to access Longwood Park by boat, and they will be able to swim and fish from the park.

More of the city’s goals for 2008 will be discussed at a retreat in Brasstown Valley the first weekend of February.