City OKs building heights proposal

Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 at 1:16 a.m.

They will be puny by skyscraper standards, but new buildings just north of the University of Florida could rise up to six stories under a proposal that got initial approval from the Gainesville City Commission on Monday.

Buildings along W. University Avenue and 13th Street in the College Park area can be five stories - or six with a special-use permit - under the proposals. Those heights are taller than the rest of College Park but will be allowed because development along the two roads is largely commercial.

Structures in areas with a residential multifamily 6, 7 and 8 zoning classification throughout the city can be three stories - or five with a special-use permit - under the recommendations.

The move to set building heights was triggered by plans for the Midtown development - a trio of 23- and 26-story buildings planned for a site between downtown and Shands at AGH.

City Community Development Director Tom Saunders said the provision allowing for taller buildings with a special-use permit is designed to protect neighborhoods with single-family zoning that adjoin neighborhoods with the multifamily zoning.

"We probably don't want to get into details at this stage about what all the special-use standards would be, but one would be that the property does not need to be next to property zoned single-family," Saunders said. "If they are right next to single-family neighborhoods, we're going to hold them to three stories."

The heights discussed by the commission on Monday had already been suggested by the officials. The Community Development Committee studied the proposals and came back with the recommended heights.

The city Plan Board will review the recommendations, which will then come back to the City Commission for formal approval. City Manager Wayne Bowers said the process will take a few months.

The Midtown development will be the tallest in the city at 280 feet tall if it is built. For comparison, the nearby Seagle Building is 130 feet.

As a result of Midtown, commissioners are setting building height limits through the city, including a proposed 12-story cap on new downtown buildings.

Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or

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