Midtown developer is seeking more time


This rendering shows the northwest side view of the proposed Midtown high-rise project.

SPECIALTO THE SUN
Published: Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 12:46 a.m.
Just hours before the deadline expired, developers of the proposed Midtown high-rise complex Wednesday asked for more time to adapt their project to conditions set by the city.
A faxed request arrived at the city offices on Wednesday, asking that engineers working on the $250-million development be granted 120 more days.
They said they needed the time to make minor alterations, which would bring the proposal into compliance with conditions set by city staff and development boards.
If city planners deny the request, Midtown U.F. LLC, the company created specifically to manage this project, will have to re-apply for permission to build the complex.
Midtown's plan consists of two 23-story buildings - an undergraduate apartment complex and a luxury hotel - and a 26-story apartment complex for graduate students. The buildings would stand in a four-block area at SW 2nd Avenue and SW 6th Street.
The additional time, and the changes necessary to meet the city's conditions, are important to ensure the success of the project, said developer Ben Schachter, president of Midtown U.F. LLC.
"We need to make sure this is as perfect as possible," Schachter said.
More than a month ago, Schachter told a reporter that the plans would be submitted by the end of June, adding he is waiting to file them for financial reasons.
City Planning Manager Ralph Hilliard, who will likely have a large say in whether the project receives an extension, could not be reached for comment.
If built, the project will rise 280 feet, making it the tallest structure in Alachua County.
The University of Florida's 14-story Beatty Towers are 172 feet and 162 feet tall. UF's Century Tower is 157 feet.
And the tallest structure nearest to Midtown is the Seagle Building on University Avenue at 10 stories.
Conditions currently under consideration would involve changes to internal aspects of the development, and would probably not change the buildings' height or appearance, Schachter said.
"Nothing about the physical appearance of the building is changing," Schachter said.
The Midtown development has been beset by delays since it was first proposed in late 2001. Initial construction on the complex was supposed to begin in February, but Schachter suggested Wednesday that buildings on the site would not go up until the end of the year.
Preliminary work on the site, however, could begin as early as the fall, he said, with crews beginning to clear the land while the developers still discuss details of the proposal with staff.
Jeff Adelson can be reached at (352) 374-5095 or adelsoj@gvillesun.com.

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