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Group reviewed 4 bids to develop downtown property
Knight-Daniel proposal was 'consensus number one'
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A government panel charged with picking the developers for the $53 million downtown makeover had to choose from four bids, with the one from Knight Commerical Real Estate and Carroll Daniel Construction being the "consensus number one," according to City Manager Bryan Lackey.

Downtown projects

Location: Fourth side of Square

Developer: Knight Commercial Real Estate

Investment: $16 million

Size: 15,000 square feet

Use: Street level retail and restaurants with 40 luxury condos above

Groundbreaking: First quarter 2018

Location: Jesse Jewell and Maple Street (Old Greater South lot)

Developer: Knight Commercial Real Estate

Investment: $25 million

Size: 30,000 square feet

Use: Street level restaurant and retail space with 150 market rate apartments above

Groundbreaking: third quarter 2018

Location: Jesse Jewell and Main Street (Parking lot)

Developer: Carroll Daniel Construction

Investment: $12 million

Size: 60,000 square feet

Use: Office, retail and restaurant space

Groundbreaking: Fourth quarter 2017

Source: City of Gainesville

When it came time to select between four proposals for the development of prime downtown Gainesville property owned by the city, the decision was left up to a panel made up of mostly local government insiders.

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan headed the panel that selected Atlanta-based Knight Commercial Real Estate and hometown company Carroll Daniel Construction to develop three mixed-use projects on the city’s property.

The projects with a combined investment of $53 million were unveiled last week, and will include housing, office space, restaurants and retail.

The selection committee included City Manager Bryan Lackey, Community Development Director Rusty Ligon, Special Projects Manager Jessica Tullar, Councilwoman Ruth Bruner and only one outsider — Atlanta-based consultant Todd Noell, who was hired by the city to prepare a market analysis of the property to be developed.

Lackey told The Times that three Atlanta-based companies were in contention — The Gipson Co., a real estate brokerage and investment company, Prestwick Companies, a development and construction group specializing in multi-family housing, and Walton Communities, a developer and manager of multi-family housing.

“We liked all four proposals we got and we felt we would have been happy choosing any one of those four,” Lackey said. “However, we had to choose one.”

The four bids responded to a request for proposal issued by the city in January. The RFP outlined three specific goals: increase residential density, vitality and diversity in the downtown area; increase retail and commercial units; and maximum return on the sale of the property.

“After reviewing the proposals and conducting interviews with all four groups, the review committee agreed that the Carroll Daniel and Knight Commercial Real Estate team was the consensus No. 1 proposal,” Lackey said.

The developers will pay the city $740,000 for almost 2 acres of downtown property. The terms of the agreement will be included in a resolution to be acted on at the next city council meeting Tuesday.

Lackey said the city tried unsuccessfully in 2014 to find a developer of its downtown property. He said an RFP issued that year attracted three proposals, but two were deemed incomplete and the third did not meet the city’s expectations.

Dunagan said the city’s plans for downtown development were put on hold after the downturn in the economy that began 10 years ago.

“We have been waiting a decade for this news and I have to say it was worth it,” Dunagan said.

In 2015, the city completed its strategic downtown master plan, which was used to shape this year’s RFP, according to Lackey.

Lackey said Noell Consulting also had a hand in drafting the RFP issued in January. He said it may have provided better guidance on the city’s expectations and potential for success of the downtown development.

Tim Knight, president of Knight Commercial Real estate, said he appreciates the city’s efforts.

“They’ve been very helpful with zoning guidelines, design guidelines and easement issues,” Knight said. “They’ve worked with us for us to understand what we have to accomplish to make these projects work.”

Brian Daniel, president of Carroll Daniel Construction, said in the coming weeks his team will be preparing detailed plans for a proposed 60,000-square-foot office building that likely will include room for retail and a restaurant.

“It will go through the city’s review process just like any other project,” Daniel said.

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