News brief courtesy of Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group
The heart of Downtown Gainesville is getting a new look. After nearly four years of site studies and community discussions, Gainesville’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is leading efforts to turn the historic Bo Diddley Community Plaza into a more iconic destination for locals and visitors alike.
Improvements will include a gently trickling water wall, a green room for performers and a second café space.
“The north plaza rejuvenation will attract more users at all times of day,” said CRA manager Sarah Vidal-Finn. “A coffee-shop styled café will encourage early morning traffic and additional features will support and enhance plaza programming. The goal is to create a fun, active space for everyone to enjoy.”
The plaza’s bus stop will be moved slightly east in order to make the plaza more visible from University Avenue and encourage more pedestrian activity. An informational kiosk will be used to promote special events. Safety, visibility and accessibility were major guiding principles, Vidal-Finn said.
Destin-based DAG Architects has been contracted to redesign the north plaza. Construction could begin as early as winter 2014.
In 2010, the agency converted the plaza’s old Bethel Station (a 1920s-era gas service station) into the bustling Lunchbox café. The CRA’s mission is to eliminate slum and blight, revitalize Gainesville’s urban neighborhoods and encourage economic growth. Projects have ranged from building the signature 13th Street DNA-helyx bridge to spurring Mindtree’s 400-job creation pledge with a high-wage job incentive package.