With a distinctive cupola fixed on top of one end of the building and a future restaurant pledged on the other side, Gainesville Renaissance is beyond taking shape on the fourth side of the square.
A projected June 2022 completion is in sight.
But there’s also no pressure to speed things up — let alone cut corners — even as workers are busily moving in and around the building.
“We can take our time and pick and choose in a way that benefits the community,” developer Fred Roddy said. “In a commercial project, typically, you borrow money. We’re an all-cash deal. This was done for the purpose of elevating the tide.
“We’re not in a fret to get it done. We’re in a fret to get it done right.”
The project’s primary investor is New Holland native and former Coca-Cola CEO Doug Ivester, who will have a two-story condo in the building, with the top floor of that unit all that makes up the building’s fourth floor.
The $22.4 million, 60,000-square-foot building, occupying what had been a longtime public parking lot, will have three floors, with retail making up the first floor, Brenau University’s Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling on the second floor and eight condominium units on the third floor.
A walkway will connect the third floor to the city’s parking deck off Main Street, with gated access only for residents, who also will have assigned parking spaces in the deck.
Additionally, a small park will run between Renaissance and the Hall County Courthouse, connecting to Roosevelt Square.
Latin-Asian fusion restaurant Taqueria Tsunami is the first retail tenant, with plans to occupy a 3,500-square-foot space on the corner of Spring and Main streets.
The Brenau space could be ready to occupy early this year and a focus on the condos could start in the spring.
The decision to lease or sell the residences hasn’t been made yet, Roddy said, but expect top dollar either way. At $500 per square foot, a 2,000-square-foot unit’s value could be $1 million or more, he said.
Each of the units will have balconies, so residents will have prime views of the downtown area. Ivester’s unit will have four balconies, plus an interior glass elevator and stairwell that have yet to be installed.
With large lanterns on either side and the building’s logo featuring an image of the cupola above a front door, the main entrance to Gainesville Renaissance has been established. The lobby off the main entrance will feature a hallway with Brenau art pieces lining about 200 feet of wall, Roddy said.
“It will be open during the day and secured at night,” he said while giving The Times a tour of the building this week.
Another distinguishing feature of the building is a two-story chimney on the Main Street side.
“There are no fireplaces up there,” Roddy said. “We built a chimney so it would look like there was.”
The feature is intended to “bring out the residential character of the third floor,” said Kamini Anand of Alpharetta-based Robertson Loia Roof Architects & Engineers, which is involved in the project.
“The idea is timeless architecture,” she said. “When you think about it, this building happened in the last year, but you can’t really tell that it’s brand new. All the elements are taken from old Gainesville buildings and what was on the square.
“It’s not like some glass, five-story something that’s just plopped in there for the sake of putting something there.”
“I think we had a great vision from day one” of the project, Ivester said in a phone interview. “It has turned out exactly as I had hoped. What I really wanted to do was set the stage for a complete revival of downtown.”