13th Street apartments approved

A rendering of residencies at Grand Oaks.

(Courtesy of Skinner Vignola McClean Inc.)
Published: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 2:35 a.m.
Developers believe the promise of a parking spot near the University of Florida will lure students and their parents to pay for rooms in a five- and six-story luxury apartment complex on NW 13th Street.
Construction on Residences at Grand Oaks, a $26 million complex that will house about 500 students in 127 units, is expected to begin in April. It should be completed in time for students to move in for the fall 2004 semester and will contain amenities such as indoor bike racks, weekly maid service and valet parking, project officials say.
"This is not your typical three-story apartment development," said John Hudson, president of a construction consulting firm in Gainesville working on the project.
Plans for Grand Oaks, which would be located on what's now a wooded lot bounded by NW 12th and 13th Streets and NW 7th and 8th Avenues, received preliminary approval from the city's Development Review Board last week.
The City Commission is expected to give final approval to aspects of the plan before April.
Grand Oaks would include a U-shaped complex of three apartment buildings, surrounding a courtyard, pool and clubhouse.
Rooms would rent for about $500 a month, which would include electronic security, wireless Internet connections in the courtyard and garbage chutes at the end of each hallway.
A 14,400-square-foot retail building would front NW 13th Street. It likely will include two major restaurants and possibly a few small stores, such as a copy shop.
A five-story parking garage would be located behind the retail building and would use mechanical stackers - a device that stacks cars on hydraulic shelves, one on top of the other.
"The parking structure will not be recognizable as a parking structure. It will look just like an office building," he said.
He said the complex will be targeted towards UF undergraduates, who would have to walk about seven blocks to campus.
"The idea is that every undergraduate student comes to Gainesville with a car because they had them in high school, but trying to drive them to school is ridiculous," he said. "That's what's clogging up Archer Road. That's what's clogging up 24th Avenue."
Grand Oaks is being developed by David Goldberg, a developer who works primarily with projects in New York and New Jersey.
Goldberg first came to Gainesville in the summer of 2000, when one of his daughters was attending a summer program at UF between her junior and senior years of high school.
Goldberg, a resident of Davie, said he saw a need for a complex like Grand Oaks after driving past sprawling apartment complexes on Archer Road.
Some neighborhood activists have criticized Grand Oaks as being too tall for Gainesville and out of place along one of the city's busiest corridors. However, businesses near the Grand Oaks site say it's time the vacant lot was cleaned up.
"It utilizes some of the area back there that's just kind of dead right now," said Paul Swander, production manager at the nearby Trophy Shop.
Denver Linville, shop manager at Paul Folks Auto Repair, said Grand Oaks would put more potential customers next door.
Some people said they won't believe Grand Oaks will become a reality until they see dirt being turned.
"I've been here 15 years. That's about the fourth thing I've heard that's 'definitely happening,' " said Steve Pruitt, manager of All Star Automotive. "I think it's probably not going to happen, but if they do, it's OK."
Ashley Rowland can be reached at 374-5095 or rowlana@gvillesun.com.

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