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Gainesville downtown plan includes park n slide, chicken jokes and mixed-use development
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The “park ‘n slide” is one of the more colorful ideas found in the published version of Gainesville’s new concept plan to guide growth and development in and around the downtown square.

Downtown concept plan ideas

• Redevelop the old Pacolet Mill in the industrial area of Gainesville into residential lofts

• Connect Henry Ward Way with Spring Street near the courthouse by removing bollards

• A trolley system like San Francisco between major points of interest

• Park ‘n slide

• Chicken hopscotch and chicken jokes on sidewalks

• Mixed-use development

Imagine this: You’ve parked your car on the top floor of the courthouse parking deck in downtown Gainesville. The elevator is running slow and you don’t care to take the stairs three flights to the ground level.

But a third option is available: a spiral slide like that found at a children’s playground. Would you take it?

The “park ’n slide” is one of the more colorful ideas found in the published version of Gainesville’s new concept plan to guide growth and development in and around the downtown square.

The plan was predicated on identifying just where the city stands in 2015, where it wants to be in 2045 and how to get from here to there.

Connecting downtown with nearby residential neighborhoods and business corridors, such as Green Street, Oak Street and midtown, is key to ensuring downtown’s place in the life of residents and visitors.

When city officials announced the new plan in October, housing, new fairs and festivals, improved walkways, nightlife and public art were a few of the big-ticket items they identified as part of the next generation of downtown.

For example, the plan suggests piggybacking on the city’s legacy as the poultry capital of the United States by installing bicycle racks shaped as chickens. This also corresponds with a proposal to create bicycle-sharing stations.

Meanwhile, pedestrian crosswalks could include a “chicken hopscotch” game to make getting to the other side of the road a bit more exciting.

Speaking of the other side of the road, the plan even calls for painting “why did the chicken cross the road?” jokes at crosswalks.

Answer: To show the armadillo it was possible.

Then there is the idea to market downtown with T-shirts bearing slogans like “I’m a Gainesville Chick” and “I’m married to a Gainesville Chick.”

The vaunted “fourth side of the square,” which is currently a parking lot next to the Brenau Downtown Center, is eyed as a location for possible mixed-use development, with retail on the ground floor, a “bird’s nest” café on the second floor and housing above.

It is unclear if any of these ideas will ever come to fruition, but they are a starting point for officials and residents to begin considering what they want from downtown in the years to come.

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