Butler needs four-lane road to get loans


Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 6:23 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 12:00 a.m.
A recently released transportation study says that a new two-lane road will handle the traffic associated with a proposed mega-development just north of Butler Plaza for the next 20 years.
But the shopping center's developer Clark Butler is more concerned about what the banks will do. According to Butler, banks won't give him $75 million to $100 million he will need to build a supercenter, possibly with three super-sized stores, if the development fronts a two-lane road.
"You can't finance it," Butler said Tuesday.
That's one of the reasons Butler plans to lobby the Alachua County Commission to rebuild SW 24th Avenue - now a narrow lime rock road - as a divided four-lane road instead of its current plan to make it a two-lane road.
Butler has set his sights on developing a 100-acre tract, former home to the Windmeadows Mobile Home Park, north of the existing shopping center.
Butler has garnered backing from the University of Florida, which wants to create an east-west corridor that would help divert vehicles from student-crowded University Avenue and Archer Road.
Butler and Ed Poppell, UF vice president of finance and administrative affairs, have called a meeting for later this week with County Manager Randy Reid, Gainesville City Manager Wayne Bowers and County Commissioner Rodney Long to discuss many of the issues surrounding the road, including design, cost and who will pay.
"We had this idea that we could make an impact and save the county a significant amount of money," said Bob Reller with Butler Enterprises. "We thought it would be a good idea to talk about it."
A meeting originally was scheduled for this morning, but Long had a previous engagement. The meeting, which as of Tuesday afternoon had yet to be rescheduled, is expected to be open to the public.
Butler is expected to offer to take over design and construction of SW 24th Avenue from SW 34th Street to SW 43rd Street. He hopes to expedite the project and possibly save the county money. County projections show road construction costs, including the construction of SW 38th Terrace, a north-south road between SW 20th Avenue and SW 24th Avenue, to be $5.2 million.
Although the county planned to include roundabouts, Butler said he would install traffic signals. Bike lanes and sidewalks, now included in the county's plan, also would appear in Butler's plans, he said.
"It would be similar to NW 39th Avenue," Butler said. "That's one of the roads the county approved."
Butler also plans to build SW 38th Terrace, a north-south road between SW 20th Avenue and SW 24th Avenue.
Butler said he expects his share of the road project to be more than $2 million - the amount he originally pledged to the project.
Janine Young Sikes can be reached at 337-0327 or sikesj@gvillesun.com.

BUTLER:

Numerous plans

New Butler project AT A GLANCE

  • Clark Butler has set his sights on developing a 100-acre tract, former home to the Windmeadows Mobile Home Park.
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