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Mixed-use development still coming to old Cooper Pants Factory site, developer says
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A mixed-use development is still in the works at the old Cooper Pants Factory site off Maple and Broad streets in downtown Gainesville. - photo by Jeff Gill

A Gainesville developer is probably several months away from having a “defined plan for construction” for retail and apartments on the old Cooper Pants Factory site.

“For the past several months, we have been working on site plans with our architects and civil engineers for a mixed-use deal,” Tim Knight said in a recent email.

“We now have three different mixed-use scenarios we are working on, and the one we choose will be dependent upon several factors, including highest and best use for the site, tenant credit level and tenant demand.”

Knight Commercial Realty has an option contract on the property off Maple and Broad streets and Jesse Jewell Parkway. It was part of a request for proposals submitted with Carroll Daniel Construction to the city last year.

“They still have over a year remaining on that option, as the thought process by both the city and Knight was that they would focus on the Parkside (on the Square) project first,” City Manager Bryan Lackey said. “That timing also works well with Carroll Daniel completing their project before that project begins.”

In May 2017, city officials announced several projects in a $53 million makeover of the downtown area, including a $25 million investment at the Maple and Broad streets site.

At the time, the project was described as including 30,000 square feet of street-level retail and restaurant space with about 150 market-rate apartments in floors above.

“We feel like these future residents will be able to walk to everything they need,” Knight said at the announcement. “The time is right for both of these projects. We’re very excited about getting started. We’re thankful to the city for giving us this opportunity.”

The Cooper Pants factory site holds a place in history, as well.

The factory was caught up in a 1936 tornado that devastated downtown, killing more than 200 people. The twister caused the factory to collapse, sparking a fire that trapped and killed about 70 workers, mostly young women. A historic marker was placed on the site in October 2014.

Knight also is developing Parkside on the Square off Main and Spring streets. That project features 15,000 square feet in street-level retail and 32 luxury condominiums filling the four floors above the retail.

Parkside would sit on what is now a parking lot occupying the fourth side of the square.

Construction also has been underway for several months on a $12 million, 60,000-square-foot, four-story building that would house Carroll Daniel’s new headquarters.

The first floor of the building off Main Street at Jesse Jewell Parkway will be open for retail, restaurant and office space. Carroll Daniel will occupy the second and third floors, and the fourth floor will feature recreational and meeting space uses with a rooftop deck.

As part of the downtown work, two floors are being added to the parking deck on Main Street.

The first three floors reopened in November, and the remaining three floors are set to be open in January.

When the project is complete, the deck will have 180 new spaces, bringing the total to about 600. The fifth floor of the expanded parking deck will have 64 spots set aside for Parkside residents.

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