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UF to begin expanding Innovation District in 2024

Source: Seth Johnson, Main Street Daily News, 12/12/23

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UF aims to build out more than 1.2 million square feet of building space east of campus starting in 2024, looking to elevate the Innovation District through a six-phase plan.

The district already houses UF Innovate, and a new plan released by UF, Concept Companies and Trimark Properties shows four parking garages, science and technology research and design buildings and professional housing coming to the 13-acre district.

The university hopes to attract Fortune 500 research companies and create a direct connection for students from the classroom to their careers.

“UF and Gainesville are on an amazing trajectory together, and this bold, new plan for the Innovation District captures the excitement of where we’re headed,” said Mori Hosseini, UF Board of Trustees chair. “We are committed to helping this vital link between our campus and downtown Gainesville reach its fullest potential.”

A UF press release said the new plan for the Innovation District, now over a decade old, will help it achieve “its identity as a bastion of progress.”

The district is located between UF’s main campus and downtown Gainesville, and UF hopes an expanded Innovation District will bridge the two hubs. Already, the district attracts visitors with UF Innovate | The Hub that has around 80 businesses, from startups to traded corporations.

UF’s plan also details an expansion of housing, dining and mixed-use buildings already in the area. SW Second Avenue will serve as the main corridor through the district, and the road will see pedestrian crossing improvements. SW Ninth Avenue will also undergo changes, including a pedestrian-only section that can access a pocket park for the area.

Some housing is already on the way for the area. The Gainesville City Commission approved a 12-story apartment complex in February that will rise just across the street from Infinity Hall in the “heart of Innovation Square.” The Swamp Restaurant also moved to the area, reopening in August 2022.

Brian Crawford, CEO of Concept Companies, said the goal is for the district to be a “thriving ecosystem of possibility.”

“We aim to create a mixed-use environment for all sectors – from biotech and semiconductor to agriculture AI and healthcare research – to benefit from the proximity to the country’s top public university and the resources of our community,” Crawford said in a UF release.

UF spent just over a billion dollars in research during 2022—the 25th most of U.S. universities.

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