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Shuttles no more? Maybe, with Gainesville’s Atlanta Botanical Garden project
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Gainesville's Atlanta Botanical Garden is located on Sweetbay Drive north of town. - photo by Scott Rogers

Update, Dec. 7: Plans to expand Gainesville’s Atlanta Botanical Garden off Cleveland Highway — including several hundred additional parking spaces and a future events center— were given final approval by Gainesvlle City Council.

Update, Nov.9: Plans to add about 300 parking spaces in an expansion of Gainesville’s Atlanta Botanical Garden off Cleveland Highway were given initial approval Tuesday.

About 300 parking spaces could be added to Gainesville’s Atlanta Botanical Garden off Cleveland Highway.

“We’ve been slowly acquiring residential properties directly adjacent to the garden with that intent,” said Art Fix, Atlanta Botanical Garden chief operating officer.

He said that the attraction has had to run shuttles to accommodate parking for certain events.

“Running a shuttle bus through the neighborhood and through the community is not good for the institution or the people in Gainesville,” Fix said.

To accomplish the project, Atlanta Botanical Gardens at 1911 Sweetbay Drive is seeking to annex and rezone some 38 acres around the site. The requests are set to go before the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

The garden, which opened in 2015, is located on 168 acres donated by the late founders of The Times, Charles and Lessie Smithgall. The garden features trails, an amphitheater, children’s garden, gift shop, visitors center and pond.

Specifically, the garden is seeking to rezone nearly 21 acres off Roper Hill Road, Lakehill Drive and Cleveland Highway and annex 17 acres off Barrett Street, Gary Street, Lakehill Drive and Randall Street.

“The intent is to add property to the existing Atlanta Botanical Garden for future expansion,” a Gainesville planning document states. “Planned expansions will be phased in based on need and funding opportunities.”

The new parking spaces could be open by October 2022, Fix said.

The planning board’s decision will serve as a recommendation of denial or approval. The Gainesville City Council would take final action at a later date.

Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board

Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway
What: Requests to allow new 300-space parking lot at Gainesville’s Atlanta Botanical Garden
When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9