City: Downtown hotel a must for lot


Published: Saturday, October 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 1, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.
When Gainesville city commissioners opened the way to the Gainesville Greens project on city Parking Lot 10, they closed the door to some proposals on projects on another city lot.
After approving the $39 million condominium, retail and restaurant project, commissioners opted to require any proposals on Parking Lot 9, at SE 2nd Avenue and SE 1st Street, to include a hotel component.
The most prominent development that would be excluded by this stipulation is a re-creation of the 1885 Alachua County Courthouse proposed by Gainesville architect Jay Reeves and backed by unnamed developers. The project would have housed legal and professional offices and spurred a competing proposal of a hotel from developer Ken McGurn and restaurateur Billy Scheel.
"It's a let-down because from an architectural standpoint it was a chance to do a landmark piece of architecture," Reeves said. "Chances like that don't come around often."
Commissioners, particularly Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, have often talked of the need for a downtown hotel and two of the four finalists considered for Lot 10 included hotel rooms.
"The need is there," Commissioner Warren Nielsen said. "The absence of a top tier hotel (in downtown Gainesville) is clear."
Though it won't happen at Lot 9, the courthouse proposal could resurface elsewhere in the city's core. While the two were competing for Lot 9, McGurn suggested he would be willing to help Reeves put together properties to build the office building nearby.
"It's not something we've explored yet," Reeves said. "But I wouldn't completely rule it out."
Jeff Adelson can be reached at 352-374-5095 or adelsoj@gvillesun.com

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