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Colliers' Gainesville office outlines options for the Power District

After 10 years, redevelopment plan for the Power District is still a work in progress

When Gainesville Regional Utilities moved into a new operations center on North Main Street in 2011, it opened up the opportunity to redevelop industrial land that GRU no longer needed downtown.

Ten years later, the redevelopment plan for the Power District is still a work in progress. In the meantime, affordable housing has dwindled and west-side sprawl has accelerated. Officials need to finally decide on a plan for the Power District and stick to it. 

The Power District gets its name from GRU's continuing operations of the Kelly natural gas power plant downtown. The city-owned utility’s other properties in the area — including parking lots, warehouses and even its downtown office — are envisioned as possible locations for a walkable, mixed-use development that brings new jobs, residents and visitors to the heart of the city.

The Gainesville City Commission picked a Baltimore-based developer for the project in 2017, only to have a change in the company scuttle that plan two years later. Visitor-attracting facilities such as a new sports complex have since been located west of Interstate 75, while commissioners still haven't determined how to develop land that should be prime real estate due to its location around Depot Park.

The commission and Community Reinvestment Area advisory board discussed plans for the Power District at an April 7 workshop. Members of Colliers International’s Gainesville office outlined options of what properties should be offered for sale and what should be required of any buyer.

The commission and advisory board could start making these decisions as soon as another month or two, unless commissioners completely go back to the drawing board. City Commissioner Gail Johnson has said she was unaware that selling the properties has been the plan and suggested she would prefer a partnership with a developer and possibly not developing all the properties at once.

If commissioners stick with selling the properties, they must clearly outline requirements for the purchase to ensure that the development isn't just another collection of cookie-cutter structures full of high-end apartments and chain businesses.

The development should instead allow local workers to be able to afford to live within the city. Workers such as nurses would be within a short transit or bike ride to the University of Florida Health medical complex, instead of being forced to live in locations that require long commutes on already congested roads.

The opening of Depot Park in 2016 and the Cade Museum in 2018 created an area that serves as a showcase for our community. The Power District development should further highlight the best that Gainesville has to offer by having space for locally owned restaurants and retailers, building on the success of nearby businesses such as First Magnitude Brewing Company and Luke's New York Bagel Shop.

The plan should make the best use of property such as GRU’s downtown office, with its billing windows able to move elsewhere downtown. Building something above the Rosa Parks Regional Transit Station has even been suggested as a possibility, while the former RTS headquarters could extend the development south of Depot Park.

These decisions shouldn’t be rushed, but waiting around another decade to do something is not a viable option. Commissioners need to bring jobs and residents to the heart of the city rather than just watching as development spreads farther west.

Source: The Gainesville Sun

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Dan Drotos

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Gainesville

As the Senior Vice President of the Gainesville office for Colliers, Dan leads the firm's presence in Alachua County and the surrounding sub-markets by providing commercial real estate solutions for his clients. His team specializes in commercial and land transactions (sales & leasing) including office, retail, industrial, and multi-family. With well over 100 years of combined local knowledge and service, they strive to continuously raise the bar for their clientele. 

Prior to joining Colliers International, Dan served as Vice President of the Commercial and Land Division at an independent firm in Gainesville where he was a partner in The Drotos Ryals Group. His team has successfully transacted over $1 billion in local (Alachua County) commercial real estate. Dan holds both a Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) and Master of Building Construction (MBC) from the University of Florida along with multiple professional designations, including Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR). He also also serves in several industry, civic, and non-profit organizations such as: The Urban Land Institute, Ronald McDonald House of North Central Florida, First Federal Bank of  Florida, United Way, and Leadership Gainesville.

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Rory Causseaux

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Rory graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in civil engineering and has spent the past 35 years in Gainesville as a professional consultant in the land-development industry. Shortly following his graduation, Rory founded CHW Professional Consultants. Serving the company for the last 30 years, Rory’s roles shifted from Vice to President, to CEO and later to Founder. Under Rory’s leadership, the company grew from 13 employees to 85 employees and increased its gross revenue to well over $10 million.

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Lauren Edwards

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