“The area is crying out for redevelopment, and we have a great comfort level with the location,” says Rick Birdoff of New York developer RD Management.
The project is planned for a parcel at 309 NW 13th Street, where Orange and Blue Textbooks and a military recruiting station are now located.
“The area has a hodgepodge of uses,” he says. “As much as I like Krispy Kreme [located across from the planned development], having it take up the room it does isn’t the highest and best use of the area,” he says. “It would make sense for Krispy Kreme to be on the ground floor of another building.”
As an anchor for the 26,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, Birdoff hopes to attract a grocery store. He’s also talking with other retailers.
The second floor is available for either stores or offices. Above that would be 270 student apartments. Birdoff is confident they will rent well. “The parents of undergrads have money to spend for units that are within walking distance of campus,” he argues.
While RD Management wants to create an anchor for redevelopment of the area along 13th Street, it’s striving to be a good neighbor to people living in the adjoining area, Birdoff says.
With that in mind, it designed the project to “step down” from eight stories along 13th street, to a three-story parking garage and then to a surface parking lot surrounded by a brick fence where the property abuts the residential neighborhood behind it. The façade of the garage will be designed to look like an office building and it will have a terrace on the top floor, Birdoff says.
Rents for the project will be comparable to those Trimark Properties charges for its properties in the University Heights area south of University Avenue, Birdoff says. “Trimark has been able to maintain high occupancy, and our market studies show strong demand for the type of project we’re doing,” he says.
RD Management has been successful in Orlando, and it sees Gainesville as a strong market. “The city outperforms the rest of Florida by leaps and bounds,” he says.
“It’s a great college town, and it’s very vibrant, with companies growing and Innovation Square developing,” he says. “It’s a smaller Austin.”
The city plan board and commission have given preliminary approval to the project, and it is scheduled to vote on final approval later this summer.
Construction should begin around the first of the year, Birdoff says.