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Townhouse project may transform blighted midtown
Rental rates expected to be $1,000 at Enclave Townhouse
Jessica Tullar, special projects manager for Gainesville, shows one of 13 dilapidated structures to be razed and replaced by a $6 million residential development in the city's midtown area near Martin Luther King Boulevard and Pine Street. Tullar presented a resolution at a Gainesville City Council work session Thursday that would advance funding to a private developer through a Tax Allocation District agreement. - photo by Carlos Galarza

A private development company is partnering with the city of Gainesville to raze vacant, dilapidated homes in midtown and build townhouse-style rental properties.

John Vardeman, a spokesman for the developer, said demolition is already underway and grading is scheduled to begin next week. The expectations are to complete and have 45 townhouses — each with three bedrooms and two bathrooms — completed and ready to market by the end of the year.

City officials expect rent to be about $1,000 a month.

City officials discussed project details Thursday during a Gainesville City Council work session.

Community development staff presented city council with a resolution stipulating the terms of a Tax Allocation District agreement that will advance funding to the developers — Steve McKibbon and business partner Robbie Robison.

McKibbon calls the Gainesville-Hall County area home and sees great potential for midtown development, Vardeman told The Times.

The resolution was placed on the consent agenda that will be voted on at the city council meeting Tuesday.

Mayor Danny Dunagan embraced the partnership.

“It’s going to be a great project for that area,” Dunagan said. “”We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great addition.”

The project — Enclave Townhouse —  will be in a 4-acre block bordered by Martin Luther King Boulevard; Davis, Pine and Willis streets, city officials said.

Community development director Rusty Ligon told council he doubts any other developer would have taken on such a project.

“This is over a $6 million investment that they’re making,” Ligon said. “We need to realize how lucky we are … This is on the urban edge. This is going to make a huge difference. It’s exactly what TAD funding was meant to do.”

Jessica Tullar, special projects manager for Gainesville, said the developer is requesting TAD funding of up to $769,058. She said $300,000 of those funds would be reimbursed for cleanup of the location site, including demolition of 13 structures, asbestos study and remediation, and grading. To get that money, she said the developer would have to submit paid invoices.

City staff calculated that for every one dollar the developer gets, it is putting in almost $8.

“They’ll get up front from us, but then they’re paying us back out of their increment,” Tullar said.

“The Enclave is in a very blighted area,” Vardeman said. “It’s Steve McKibbon’s hope that it won’t only help this area, but he also sees this having a halo effect and kicking off midtown development. He’s developing it in partnership with the city, and he knows it’s a priority for the city.”

City officials said that once the blighted area is redeveloped, the increase in tax revenues in the Tax Allocation District will more than cover what the developers are asking for within a 15-year period.