The Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (GRAC) held a kick-off event on Dec. 18 for the redevelopment of the Gainesville Technology Enterprise Center (GTEC) and the Kennedy Homes site at 1717 SE Eighth Ave. About 40 members of the community attended the meeting.
GTEC opened in 2001 as a technology incubator in East Gainesville off of Hawthorne Road. In 2010, the GRAC took over management, and at a city commission meeting in December Santa Fe College took control and will provide entrepreneurial training programs.
In 2007, the Kennedy Homes site was demolished after a series of fires. A number of community feedback initiatives about potential redevelopment showed that residents wanted the area to be rebuilt with inviting facades that could attract residents with a variety of income and feature multi-use buildings for business and recreation.
The redevelopment is a part of the larger push to reinvigorate East Gainesville by providing jobs across the educational spectrum and high-quality housing, which will help shrink the income gap between East and West Gainesville. According to a recently released U.S. Census tool, the area immediately around GTEC has a median household income of only $29,398.
Gainesville City Commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls attended the meeting and told the crowd that it’s going to take a community effort and collaboration with the city, the University of Florida and Santa Fe College to bring about the change.
“This will launch us into our deepest hopes and dreams for East Gainesville,” she said. “As a staff and community we have the will to bring this development to light, and now we have the political will as well. Businesses can thrive here in East Gainesville.”
The process for GTEC has already begun, while the Kennedy homes process is just starting. The goal is to build within the existing infrastructure — GTEC will stay where it is and be built around — and achieve a synergy between the two projects and Innovation Square and downtown Gainesville. GRAC hopes to have design documents completed by the end of spring 2014 and Phase 1 construction documents completed by the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.
The goal of the redevelopment is to provide housing, office space and retail space, while also providing recreational space to grow the quality of life. The GCRA and construction team will hold a series of visioning meetings to take community feedback about what should end up in the area, though it will probably end up a mix of high-tech businesses and retail, according to GCRA Senior Project Manager Sarit Sela.
“We’ll see from the community what they need,” she said. “Maybe they need a CVS or more restaurants.”
Kona Gray, of EDSA landscape architects, said that the firm is excited to be a part of the project and wants to hear from the community.
“This is the early stage, so anything is possible,” Gray said. “Kennedy Homes is special and this is a rebirth. We want to make it a place where people want to be.”
GCRA will hold a vision meeting for Kennedy Homes tentatively scheduled for Jan. 9 or 10, location TBD.