County signs off on initial plan for SantaFe Village
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013 at 4:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 27, 2013 at 4:41 p.m.
SantaFe Village at Springhills, a long-planned development envisioned north of 39th Avenue, is moving on to the next step in Alachua County’s approval process after receiving the County Commission’s sign-off for its preliminary development plan this week.
The mixed-use, transit-oriented development will include a maximum of 2,310 residential units and up to 1,165,000 square feet of nonresidential space, which can be used for offices, stores and other purposes, land-use attorney David Coffey said.
A bus rapid transit lane that runs through the development and a corresponding bus station and a park-n-ride facility also will be built.
The commission approved the preliminary development plan earlier this week 4-1, with Commissioner Susan Baird in dissent.
Baird told The Sun she was concerned there wasn't enough room to safely fit both a bus rapid transit lane and a lane for typical car traffic, which larger emergency vehicles may need to use at times, within the given roadway space.
"It just didn't seem it was a safe environment for a dedicated bus lane and transit," she said.
The preliminary development plan lays out a framework for the site’s development over a 30-year period, Coffey said.
“This is really big,” he said. “Given the moderate rate of growth in Alachua County, it takes awhile for that much development to be absorbed.”
SantaFe HealthCare owns the SantaFe Village property. Coffey is working as an attorney for both SantaFe HealthCare and a twin development known as Springhills, which is being developed by Pennsylvania Real Estate Trust.
Both owners have developed a common master plan for the whole area, Coffey said. PREIT’s preliminary development plan is almost complete and will soon be submitted to the county.
An operational analysis of related roadway networks for both developments has already been completed but hasn’t yet been sent to the county.
SantaFe Village will complement and build upon SantaFe HealthCare’s existing health park.
SantaFe Village, and ultimately the rest of Springhills, is meant to satisfy the demand for a type of place that doesn’t exist much in Gainesville, Coffey said. It will be a mixed-use, urban, walkable community where people can live and work within walking, or at least bicycling, distance.
Residents will also be connected to Gainesville’s other major employment centers via a rapid transit system.
Leslie McLendon, a planner with the county’s Growth Management Department, said the SantaFe Village developer’s next step is to establish a developer’s agreement with the county. It also needs to address wetland mitigation issues related to the entrance roadway to the development, which will affect a couple of wetlands.
After it has handled those matters, the developer can begin submitting its final development plans to the county.
Transportation Planning Manager Jeff Hays said the developer’s agreement essentially delineates the respective responsibilities of the developer and the county. It sets thresholds that, for example, could require the developer to complete a specific mitigation measure once it has built a certain number of units.
The county and developer will work out when to build the rapid transit lane as part of the developer’s agreement, Hays said. The county doesn’t want that to be built on Day 1, but rather after some significant development work has already been completed.
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