CRA Continues Push in Eastside Redevelopment

East Gainesville is planning on growing with Cornerstone and Heartwood, two major renovation projects that the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) hopes to complete by 2019.

Cornerstone, located at 2153 SE Hawthorne Road, is a 13.6 acre mixed-use park that’s currently owned by the city.

Merieux NutriSciences, an international food testing company headquartered in Chicago, is opening a space at Cornerstone. Rick Cain, a director at Front Street Realty, said that while he doesn’t have an exact timeline, the space is estimated to be completed by the first half of 2019.

The city has up to $375,000 in total incentives for the land that can be available for a company that wants to locate there, he said.

“We’ve got four building pads that are pad-ready, meaning all the infrastructures are put in place, utilities are brought to the site,” he said. “Then, our goal is to find an in-user who wants to locate in this area.”

“They (CRA) are working to incentivize companies to locate there — to bring jobs — to that part of east Gainesville, and our focus is primarily retail users, office users, possibly light industrial.”

Santa Fe College’s Gainesville Technology Entrepreneurship Center (GTEC) and is serving as the area’s anchor.

According to Cain, Cornerstone’s development is a part of the CRA’s general effort to try to bring more business and economic prosperity to areas that have been somewhat depressed in the past.

“The potential economic incentive that sets this project apart [is] because it’s in a redevelopment zone,” he said.

Heartwood, a neighborhood that is another CRA redevelopment project, will be located at 1717 SE 8th Avenue. Its development began when the land was cleared away in 2007, according to the CRA website.

Construction is still underway, according to the official Heartwood neighborhood website.

Tricia Lopez, a CRA project manager, said Heartwood’s development is part of a greater plan to add more housing to the eastside of Gainesville.

The neighborhood was formerly Kennedy Homes, an apartment complex that closed down due to code violations, she said.

Lopez said the CRA’s goal was to make Heartwood a 21st century neighborhood.

“The outdoor areas are pretty thoughtfully planned,” she offered. “They’re community spaces. They’re shared public spaces. The design of the homes is specific. We came up with a number of designs that are a little bit modern but also classic.”

The city commission just approved a movement to add GRUcom, the fastest internet available, to the neighborhood.

GRUcom is typically reserved for commercial use, she noted.

Lopez said the agency hopes there will be at least some homes finished by the end of 2019.

“It just depends on how things go with what’s happening. There are so many different things happening that we can’t project. So, we’re in the process of aligning the parts.”

Hopefully in 2019, all those parts are indeed aligned.

By Kristina Orrego

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