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Doug Ivester newest owner of ‘fourth side of square’ as deal is closed
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The land on the "fourth side of the square" in downtown Gainesville has a new owner after former Coca Cola chairman Doug Ivester closed the sale Thursday. Ivester bought the land after the previous project, Parkside on the Square, fell through. (Photo courtesy of Tim Knight)

The “fourth side of the square” has a new owner — Doug Ivester, former chairman of Coca-Cola Co.

Doug Carter, representing Carter Family Properties, the previous owner, said a closing was held Thursday, June 20, on the property off Spring and Main streets. Carter didn’t disclose the price.

Technically, the new owner is Gainesville Renaissance LLP, a partnership majority-owned by Ivester, Carter said.

“Our family is delighted to see this transaction closed,” he said in a prepared statement. “We’ve always been hopeful (about) that end of the square being developed in a high-quality fashion. We believe that Mr. Ivester will be developing the property in a fashion with a vision to detail and quality that will serve the best interests of Gainesville and the community.”

The Carter family has owned the property since 2001, when it bought the site from the city, Carter said.

As for how the property might be developed, “I know that strong consideration is being given to ground-floor retail.”

“They are beginning conversations with the city and exploring ideas as far as how they will develop the rest of the building,” Carter told The Times.

Fred Roddy, a spokesman for Ivester, couldn’t be reached for comment.

After the closing, Ivester and Carter met with Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey and Mayor Danny Dunagan “to begin conversations about their vision for the property,” Carter said.

Lackey said the group had a “nice conversation” over lunch at Luna’s Restaurant on the square.

“We just talked about working together in the future,” he said. “They didn’t give us any details about what the building will look like, but they’re going to start in earnest now designing it.”

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Doug Ivester speaks during an interview at the Celebration of Community North Georgia’s Hometown Heroes event in Gainesville, on Oct. 12, 2017. - photo by David Barnes

“They do seem to have a plan in place as far as a schedule and when they want to move,” he added, “and they’re serious about wanting to do a great project for Gainesville.”

Lackey added: “We’re excited about working together, about what the building is going to look like, the interactions with the parking deck and the parklet on the side and the similar things we had to go through with the last (interested) owners.”

Dunagan said talks “went very well, and I think Mr. Ivester is very excited about acquiring this piece of property.”

He added that Ivester “does not have anything in concrete yet, but he does have a mixed-use development in his thoughts. They are moving forward to develop the property as fast and as efficient as they can, and he wants it to be a legacy for Gainesville.”

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Developer Tim Knight has canceled plans for Parkside on the Square, a multi-use project in downtown Gainesville that would have filled the vacant “fourth side of the square.” People who already bought condos are receiving refunds with interest, Knight said. - photo by Jeff Gill

Gainesville developer Tim Knight had been working on a project, Parkside on the Square, before announcing earlier this month that it had collapsed.

Costs were a factor in the decision.

The project had jumped from $17 million to $22 million. In the end, “we were over $1 million from where we thought we were going to be,” said Knight, who, with two other partners, had been developing the project. “So … we just finally realized this is not going to work.”

“To say we’re disappointed is an understatement,” he said. “We wanted to build a really nice project for Gainesville.”

Parkside called for a five-story building on a half-acre lot facing Spring Street, with 15,000 square feet of retail on the first floor and 32 luxury condominiums filling the remaining four floors.

The project was tied to the city of Gainesville through the midtown tax allocation district, a designated area in which increments in property taxes resulting from new development and growth are reinvested to finance such projects.

Parkside hinged on collecting nearly $2.5 million in reimbursements for construction costs, funding that would have accounted for 12 percent of the total project cost.

“We simply cannot (build) without the TAD,” Knight said in January 2018.

But despite the city signing off on the project’s plans and committing to help publicly finance Parkside, the property was never actually sold to Knight and his team.

Anticipating downtown growth, the city used the TAD program for the expansion of the 180-space Main Street parking deck — a project that would have provided access to Parkside.

In another nearby project, Carroll Daniel Construction hopes to relocate this September to a new 60,000-square-foot headquarters building featuring first-floor retail and office space. The building is off Main Street between Jesse Jewell Parkway and Broad Street.

“As I’ve told everyone, we had to have at least one of those two projects move forward before we started on our deck expansion,” Lackey has said.

“The TAD funding that would have gone toward the parking deck off the Parkside project was several years out and would have helped offset the deck costs,” he added. “But we have it in the budget to handle the deck, so that’s not something we’re concerned about on that end.”

Expansions are funded by $1.5 million in TAD funding that will be used to pay a $4.7-million bond with Regions Bank approved by the City Council in July 2018.

“The TAD part for the deck was covered through the Carroll Daniel agreement,” Lackey said. “It would have been nice to have had the extra funds available off (Parkside) to go toward whatever debt was left on the parking deck.”

Reporter Megan Reed contributed to this report.

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