University Corners project spurs other development

An artist's rendering of the University Corners project set for University Avenue and NW 13th Street.

Special to The Sun
Published: Saturday, January 8, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 10:48 p.m.
University Corners won't be the only project pumping millions of construction dollars into the intersection of University Avenue and NW 13th Street.
The Holiday Inn University Center and the University of Florida plan to help University Corners - which is constructing eight stories of retail, entertainment, restaurant and housing outlets - transform the intersection.
The face of NW 13th Street is changing, said Michael Conroy, president of University Corners LLC. When one corner starts to develop, the rest of the area will follow suit.
"I think the best way to get people to upgrade their property is to do a good job yourself," he said. "Let the market economy work as it will."
The 230,000-square-foot project received preliminary approval from the Gainesville City Commission at its December meeting. Final approval is expected in the coming months. Conroy said he hopes to break ground by April or May and open the first retail stores by fall of 2006.
Spurred by University Corners' plan to construct "condotels," which are condominiums that can be used as hotel units, right across the street, Holiday Inn General Manager Richard Albrecht said the inn has multimillion-dollar renovations in the works.
The hotel plans to spend $1.5 million revamping its lobby, elevators and meeting areas and upgrading its 167 hotels rooms, Albrecht said. It will spend $500,000 improving its parking lot and landscaping.
Albrecht said he told Holiday Inn principals "it would be a good idea if we had all our stuff in place before they (University Corners) opened their doors.
"I encourage competition because it brings more people into the area," he said. "It makes you do the things you're supposed to do in order to be competitive."
After University Corners is built, Albrecht said he might paint the outside of the Holiday Inn a different color - an earthy tone that doesn't resemble South Florida as much as the current shade.
"We're going to enhance this corner," he said. "We are the cornerstone of the . . . area."
UF also plans to add to the economic atmosphere bordering campus, said Bruce DeLaney, UF Foundation assistant vice president for administration and real estate.
The foundation, which owns the vacant property directly south of the Kangaroo Campus Store, plans to build an academic building in the mixed-use urban style planned for University Corners, DeLaney said.
UF will probably wait to receive a private gift before building begins, he said.
Construction projects won't be the only adjustments to the square. Displaced businesses will be relocating to new headquarters.
Target Copy Center will make a permanent move to the old Spec's Music building by midspring, said Tami Kaith, Target's office manager. But most of the businesses now located on the northwest corner of the intersection will open shop in University Corners when the new project is complete.

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