The prospect of constructing a new elementary school off Mundy Mill Road in Gainesville has shifted plans to build out a massive residential and commercial project in the area.
“We are trying to get out of the way of all the traffic that will be brought into the school system,” said Wendell Starke, manager of the mixed-use Mundy Mill development. “We want to move away to let them do what they need to do.”
For the second straight year, the city broke records for the number of permits issued and revenue generated from fees on new residential and commercial construction in 2015.
And with hammers banging at the Mundy Mill development in the first weeks of 2016, the stage has been set for another record-setting year.
The proposed changes, which the city planning and appeals board OK’d to the site plan on Tuesday, should not hamper those trend lines.
For example, an additional 60 single-family home lots will be made available — 90 homes in all — in one area of the development.
In exchange, the land allocated for apartments, townhomes and condos will grow, and the number of allowable units will remain at 494 overall.
Starke said this will actually make the apartments more attractive with the addition of green space, as well as enhance quality of life and help relieve traffic congestion.
Commercial and retail space, however, will shrink significantly, with about 87,000 square feet planned on nearly 13 acres — rather than 357,000 square feet on more than 42 acres.
But that’s still plenty to help meet the shopping needs of residents in the mixed-use community, Starke said.
“So that’s the essential goal here … and reason for the change,” he added.
Luca di Benedetto, president of Atex, an advanced textile manufacturer located near the development, told planning commissioners he hoped additional buffers would be added to seclude the community from industrial uses in the area.
The City Council will review the changes in February.
IN OTHER BUSINESS
It’s like a case of one hand not telling the other what to do.
Two different buyers purchased adjacent tracts of land in East Hall from a bank in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
One of the foreclosed properties had previously been approved for a 100-lot residential subdivision.
Access to that development, which was never constructed, was approved from Lenox Drive, within the Lenox Park subdivision.
Gainesville Planning Manager Matt Tate said that restriction was meant to limit traffic congestion on nearby Floyd Road.
John Roberts, president of Alcovy-20, Inc., a Gainesville-based development firm, said he now wished to build a home on the single lot earmarked for access to the undeveloped property.
“To be honest with you, I’ve never been involved in something like this,” he said, adding that he was not aware of planning restrictions until he recently applied for a build permit. “I’ve got a lot and I can’t do nothing with it.”
Tate said he had concerns about approving a single-family home at the only approved access point. Ideally, the bank should have sold the properties together, he added.
The planning and appeals board agreed with Tate’s assessment and denied a rezoning Roberts needed to build on the access lot.
Planning board chairman Doug Carter urged both property owners to work out the seeming catch-22.