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Gainesville City Schools gets future school property
Board accepts deed for 17-acre site off Mundy Mill
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Gainesville City Schools now has a 17-acre site on Mundy Mill Road for a future school.

During Monday's work session, school board members accepted a deed from Butler Property for the land in the Mundy Mill subdivision originally given to the school system by Lanier Properties.

The action, offered by Butler's developer Wendall Starke, quietly passed as part of the board's minutes.

"We're deeply grateful to Mr. Starke for his generosity and hope to build in his development in a way that will make us all proud," Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said after the meeting. "Under the agreement, the school system will keep the property clean, the grass mowed and make it available for children to play until we build the school."

The school system has until Dec. 21, 2022, to build an elementary school on the property.

Much has changed since the original plans to build a "village in miniature" with 1,148 single-family homes, 578 townhomes, 460 apartments, an elementary school, recreational sites and hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial and office space.

In 2004, Robby Lanier annexed the 605 acres and borrowed millions from four banks. But after the housing bubble burst, bank after bank foreclosed on the properties between July and September 2009.

In December 2009, Butler Property acquired several developed but vacant lots and landed the largest chunk of property in September 2010. Since then, the company started renovating the area and removing trash.

Starke brought attention to the property again in December when he proposed the idea of allowing developers to build apartments on 65 acres of the 605-acre development. In January, Gainesville City Council members approved plans though several residents spoke up at public hearings about the zoning change.

Butler Property doesn't have current plans for construction but developers need to start moving forward with ideas, Starke told council members.

Giving back the school space is yet another step in the process.

"This is an example of staying with it through the economy," Dyer said. "We've had a lot of advice and help from the local business community during the process when the different neighborhood units and banks were involved. We're excited to move forward."