Other Eastside projects are being discussed

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 7:21 p.m.

A hotel, office and retail complex could open across NE 12th Avenue from the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Waldo Road by 2009, an engineer on the project told a group of east Gainesville residents last Wednesday before hinting at a 120-condo eastside development that is now in the works.

The projects, which add to a growing number of new developments proposed for east Gainesville, were outlined by Robert Walpole, with the engineering firm Causseaux, Hewett & Walpole, at a neighborhood workshop with 10 residents of neighborhoods near the development.

“I can't believe we're getting things like this right now,” said Gladys Thompson, a resident of Lincoln Estates who has lived in east Gainesville since the 1940s. She noted how far the area has come from the days when requests from eastside residents for connections to the city water supply were met with racial epithets.

“We've been waiting 60 years for this,” Thompson said.

The proposed hotel project would include a five-story hotel with 121 rooms, a three-story, 20,000-square-foot office building and a 20,500-square-foot retail building, Walpole said. The project is being developed by Tom Fillmer — whose father-in-law owns the property — and two other Gainesville residents, he said.

Negotiations are under way with a hotel chain that would design and run the hotel, though Walpole said he could not reveal the name of the company until an agreement is reached.

No tenant has yet been identified for the office complex. The retail part of the project is expected to include a bank and dry cleaners, a sandwich shop and possibly a sit-down chain restaurant, Walpole said, adding that at least some of the commercial space will be filled by businesses that traditionally locate near supercenters.

“Wal-Mart's really the driving force here,” Walpole said.

Developers hope to submit plans by early next year and break ground by next summer, several months after the supercenter is expected to open its doors. It will take about nine months to complete the project, Walpole said.

The condo project, planned for a site near the former Kennedy Homes apartment complex, will feature townhomes that are “upscale but affordably priced,” Walpole said.

For some at the meeting, the projects are a sign that the east side, which has not seen the same intensity of development as west Gainesville, could soon see some of the shops, restaurants and other features that have been long-sought by many in the area.

“They gave it to the west, they can give it to the east now,” said Oretha Walker, a resident of Lincoln Estates.

With land becoming scarce in west Gainesville, developers are increasingly looking at the east side even though building on properties in the area tends to mean dealing with more environmental issues than in the drier west side, Walpole said.

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