UF eyes gas station property for development

Published: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at 11:34 p.m.
With its unavoidable orange-and-blue color scheme, the Kangaroo gas station at the corner of West University Avenue and Southwest 13th Street now stands as perhaps a vibrant example of school spirit in Gainesville.
But while the property has never been a part of the University of Florida, plans developed by the UF Foundation might soon officially make the property Gator territory, though with a significantly altered appearance.
The foundation is considering options for constructing a four or five story academic building on a property that would combine the Kangaroo site with an adjacent property it owns, said Bruce DeLaney, the foundation's assistant vice president for administration and real estate.
But, for the moment at least, everything is still speculative, DeLaney said.
"There are no active negotiations," DeLaney said.
DeLaney said the foundation had discussed several possible uses for the property. Nothing has been decided, but the most likely use for the property would be for an academic building to provide space for the Warrington College of Business Administration, DeLaney said. The college has requested the additional space be ready for fall 2006, he said.
"It's going to be difficult to meet that schedule," DeLaney said.
Officials for The Pantry, which owns Kangaroo gas stations, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
If it does go up at that location, the foundation's project will not be the only construction at W. University and 13th Street. University Corners, an eight-story, three-block project that will include residential, retail and entertainment options, also will be under construction if it is approved by city boards. And at the northeast corner, the Holiday Inn will be spending $2 million to renovate its facilities.
City Commissioner Warren Nielsen said that while he wasn't familiar with the details of the project, he "had nothing but positive inclinations" for the type of development described by DeLaney. Particularly valuable, Nielsen said, would be the inclusion of street-level "retail or social activities" in the building to encourage pedestrian traffic in the area.
At street-level, the building would likely include a restaurant or coffee shop compatible with a pedestrian environment, DeLaney said.
"Every building project we have done we have tried to establish a high quality standard that sets the bar high for what people envision as a truly urban environment," DeLaney said.
"One of the things we're accomplishing is blurring the edge between town and gown."
Among the other ideas considered was a plan for a mixed-use building that would have included academic, residential and commercial space.
DeLaney compared the project to Emerson Alumni Hall on West University Avenue, which was built on a similarly sized property. Emerson cost $10 million to build and construction lasted about nine months, he said.
Jeff Adelson can be reached at 374-5095 or adelsoj@ gvillesun.com.

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