Moderate projects fitting for downtown Gainesville

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 11:16 p.m.

We have a great opportunity to plan the shape of our downtown. The Alachua County Judicial Courts Complex, the three-laning of Main Street, the Depot Park, and the proposed Midtown project - whatever its final form - will have profound impacts on the downtown area.

I support the Midtown project in concept. It is a mixed-use development on a key corridor, on mostly vacant land, that can incubate revitalization around it.

It can help mend the "seam or tear" that the West 6th Street corridor has created between the University of Florida and downtown.

It is easy to demonize a project such as this. It is bold and loud and big. Its tax benefits are offset by the increased property taxes on adjacent property owners, including fixed income residents of the Porters Community, who can ill afford it.

I have suggested to the City Commission that a more moderately scaled project of fewer stories and a more inclusive mix of housing will make this project a win-win for the community, and set a standard for a skyline that is appropriate to the scale and architectural heritage of Gainesville.

At the same time, the community has some catching up to do in creating plans to protect neighborhoods, such as the Porters Community, which is facing ever-increasing development pressures.

I hope that the furor created by the Midtown proposal can lead to something more - an increased interest in shaping the civic and physical qualities of this community in an honest, collaborative and creative manner.

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