Hotel planned for College Park

Published: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 11:38 p.m.

The parking lot behind St. Augustine Catholic Church on University Avenue is in the process of becoming a mixed-use development that would bring a 170-room hotel to the area just north of the University of Florida.

A Coral Gables-based developer has submitted a planned development application for the 1.7-acre lot that includes not only the hotel but also a 55-unit duplex complex and 14,000 square feet of retail space.

The building is proposed at six stories and will include a 610-space parking garage that is partially surrounded by the other buildings.

"There's going to be enough parking not only for the building, but for any of the patrons of the businesses in the area," said developer Oscar Roger.

Roger said he has entered into a 99-year lease with the Catholic Diocese for the land, and the church will continue to use the space for parking.

A representative from St. Augustine Church could not be reached for comment.

The Hurley House, a pink meeting house on one corner of the lot, will not be developed, according to Roger.

The plans were submitted to the city of Gainesville in October, and the City Commission will consider them Feb. 5.

Roger said he stumbled across the opportunity when his daughter was attending the University of Florida and parked her car at the church.

"We're in a super prime location," said Roger of the location in the College Park neighborhood, only a block away from campus. "What I see in College Park, it's a beautiful area, but I don't see a lot of development there. I'm excited about bringing in innovative design."

The parking lot, at the intersection of NW 1st Avenue and 18th Street, is also part of the College Park/University Heights Redevelopment Area.

Anthony Lyons, director of the Community Redevelopment Agency, said the CRA is working with the developer to possibly beautify the area surrounding the development.

"We have said to him on a number of occasions that if his side of the street looks nice and has streetscaping, we might be interested in doing the other side of the street," Lyons said.

Roger said he embraces the idea of a walkable community and that the One College Park project reminds him of his One Village Place development in Coral Gables.

Both projects he said were redevelopment efforts that improved the area greatly, bringing in housing and retail.

The 55 residential units will be two-story townhouses, Roger said, adding that the ground-floor units will open onto the street.

As for concern about building 55 rental units in a market that some consider saturated, Rogers said that the location will speak for itself.

"I believe that our property is also on Main and Main. I'm in the right location with 40,000 to 50,000 students, that all we need is very few of them who want to walk over, instead of going in their car," Roger said.

He said the hotel will be a Hotel Indigo by InterContinental Hotels and he is talking with a local restaurant owner about some of the retail space, a book store and other interested parties.

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