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Looking ahead, Gainesville: Bulldozers, new buildings mark new era
An artist’s rendering of the planned Gainesville Public Safety Facility, which will house the city’s new police headquarters. - photo by For The Times

2009: The Year Ahead

As the last days of 2008 wane, The Times takes a look at what could lie ahead for the region in the coming year. Topics include:

A look ahead at health care

A look ahead at education

A look ahead at transportation

A look at public safety

For Gainesville officials, out with the old means a multimillion-dollar project to demolish the city’s existing downtown parking deck to make room for a new one.

The new year serves up two major construction projects for the city government, and the construction of the city’s new downtown parking deck is the first course.

Crews with Gainesville’s own Optum Construction will begin demolishing the current, 28-year-old downtown parking deck this month, and the new deck should be complete by the end of July, said Gainesville’s Interim City Manager Kip Padgett.

The $6.85 million project will allow for more parking in Gainesville’s downtown area, initially creating 419 parking spaces next to the Georgia Mountains Center.

Designed by architect Steve Hill of Gainesville, the future downtown parking deck will extend over the entrance to the Georgia Mountains Center and will have brick accents fashioned in a pattern similar to that on sidewalks in the city’s downtown square.

Unlike the current deck, the yet-to-be-built, four-level deck is planned to allow growth to a six-level deck.

The six months of construction will serve as a short-term inconvenience for those who frequent the downtown area, but a temporary 90-space parking lot located at 320 Maple St. in the location of the old Greater South Supply Co. building should help to alleviate the problem.

The city’s second major project of the year will be part of the transformation of Gainesville’s Midtown district.

Padgett hopes to break ground on the city’s new Public Safety Facility on Pine Street in early February. By April 2010, the site will house the police station, municipal court and fire department administration.

Construction of the new Public Safety Facility will make way for a multistory hotel and office development in place of the current police and fire station on Jesse Jewell Parkway.

City View Plaza LLC purchased the current facility on Jesse Jewell for approximately $2 million and will replace it with a $35 million development that will include a 250-room hotel and two multistory office buildings. The developers have already applied for a land disturbance permit to build the first office building, a 125,000-square-foot, nine-story structure with a three-story parking deck, Padgett said.

The facility calls for two buildings on a 13-acre site near the Public Utilities Department on Queen City Parkway. One 52,000-square-foot building will house the police station and municipal court, while another 25,000 square-foot building will serve as Fire Station No. 1 and house the fire department’s administrative staff.

In 2008, the city staked its claim for the site, spending about $5 million in property acquisition alone, Padgett said. The 15 homes on the site have been cleared, and the site awaits a guaranteed maximum price for the construction of the two buildings.

Costs should be settled by the end of January, and progress should begin in early February, Padgett said.

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