Collier has purchased multiple homes near his property


Published: Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:09 p.m.

It’s not yet clear when student apartment developer Nathan Collier’s $1 million offer to purchase five acres of Loblolly Woods Nature Park adjacent to his home will be back before the Gainesville City Commission.

Collier has said he wants the piece of park land to expand his property and increase his privacy. If he eventually purchased the land from the city, it would not be the first property he has acquired near his homestead, which stretches along the west side of Northwest 22nd Terrace north of Northwest Eighth Avenue.

In recent years, a limited liability corporation formed by Collier purchased two homes along the stretch of Northwest Ninth Place across the street from his home. The corporation purchased a home at 2227 NW Ninth Place for $179,000 in February 2011 and one at 2247 NW Ninth Place in December 2012 for $130,700.

Back in December 2009, a business partner of Collier purchased a home in the 2200 block of Northwest Ninth Place for $179,000.

In February 2011, the corporation also purchased a home at 2257 Northwest 11th Ave., to the north of Collier’s property, for $162,500.

Collier said he purchased those homes for the same reason he seeks to acquire the piece of park land from the city.

“I just want peace and quiet,” he said.

Collier said his employees now live in the homes.

Former Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, who is representing Collier before the City Commission on his Loblolly offer, said he has no plans to pursue development on any of the properties he has purchased.

For the potential sale of the roughly five-acre piece of Loblolly to advance, the City Commission’s next step would be to declare the land surplus at a yet-to-be determined future meeting. Then, Collier, and any other potential buyers who might possibly emerge, could bid on the property.

Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Steve Phillips said staff does not yet know when the issue will go back before the commission.

When a divided City Commission voted 4-3 in May to advance the process of potentially declaring the property surplus, its working list of conditions included limiting the area sold to 4.99 acres or less, setting a minimum bid price of $200,000 an acre, putting all money from a sale toward the acquisition of other environmental properties and seeking during negotiations to put a conservation easement on some areas, including where the endangered plant species Godfrey’s Privet is growing.

Emails opposing the sale of the Loblolly tract on the grounds that the sale of conservation land sets a bad precedent continue to flow in to the City Commission on a daily basis.

On the other hand, there has been a push from some in the community for the city to sell Collier the Loblolly acreage and put the $1 million toward the purchase of the Elks Club property off Northwest 23rd Boulevard, a site that includes Glen Springs.

The spring-fed swimming pool there used to be the city’s segregation-era swimming hole. Long-neglected, the concrete deck of the pool is now crumbling, and the spring is plagued by high nitrate levels and low flow.

City officials have said they do not want to tie the money from any sale to a specific future conservation purchase. There also has been a push for Collier to enter talks with the Elks Club on a potential land swap. He said his intention is to continue with his offer to the city on the Loblolly property.

At this point, the price to purchase Glen Springs and any potential restoration costs are unknown.

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