In early December, the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce hosted Let’s Discuss Downtown with Downtown business owners and community partners, focusing on the Future of Downtown Gainesville. The event was held both live at the Cade Museum for Creativity and Innovation and virtually, where attendees could choose to participate via Zoom.
The goal of this meeting was to help regional stakeholders and local government officials hear from the business community and local workforce about potential barriers to the growth of Downtown Gainesville. The discussion included earnest comments about the successes and challenges that hinder the downtown area, including safety, housing, homelessness, walkability and lighting.
“Residents and visitors want a safe, clean environment and this is not always what we find when going downtown,” Becky Hunt said, with regard to what obstacles she sees hindering the development of Downtown Gainesville.
A report will be assembled from the provided comments and it will be shared with the City of Gainesville, the GCRA, local developers, and downtown businesses. The recommendations learned from the discussion will also be incorporated into the activities carried out by the COLLABORATE 2025 economic development action teams.
Many participants had positive things to say about Downtown Gainesville, including its character and appearance.
“I love the beautiful old buildings, friendly business employees, quaint old Florida history,” Amy Cornell said on what she loved about Downtown Gainesville.
Others focused on the room for improvement in Downtown Gainesville.
“There is no retail downtown. We need more housing downtown. We need to address the homeless issue as well. We have a serious homeless issue, and Gainesville is a compassionate place, so I think we can come up with something,” another attendee said.
This event was moderated by Brian Vasquez, News Media Manager of the University of Florida, and Staci Bertrand, VP of Economic Development at the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce. Due to the success of the live and virtual pairing, similar fact-finding discussions are being considered.
To share your thoughts on the future of Downtown, give us your input here.