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UF to create ‘world-class destination’ with project in Gainesville’s Innovation District

Source: Gainesville Sun, 12/11/23

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Photo: UF Innovate | The Hub

The University of Florida announced last week plans to develop about 13 acres in Gainesville’s Innovation District just east of campus aimed at creating a world-class destination for Fortune 500 research companies and a talent pipeline for UF students seeking high-paying jobs.

In collaboration with Concept Companies and Trimark Properties, the project — slated to begin in late 2024 — includes a total buildout of 1.2 million square feet of space. It includes science and technology research and design buildings, four parking garages, multi-family housing and a mix of retail, restaurant and entertainment spaces.

“The nation’s No. 1 public university needs a top-flight community as a partner, and this project demonstrates just how committed Gainesville is to charting a bright future of innovation, job creation and economic impact,” said UF President Ben Sasse in a news release. “If we’re all pulling oars together, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.”

Located between UF and downtown Gainesville, the Innovation District is home to UF Innovate | The Hub, which includes more than 80 businesses, restaurants and mixed-use buildings.

UF board of trustees member David Brandon called the Innovation District property “an absolute jewel, and it’s gratifying to see that Concept and Trimark recognize its tremendous potential.”

Brian Crawford, founder and CEO of Concept Companies, said he hopes the area will “become 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 news release.

Additional plans for the district include infrastructure improvements for both Southwest Second Avenue and Southwest Ninth Street, with a focus on increasing pedestrian connectivity and bikeability. The development team proposes to keep Southwest Second Avenue as a main thoroughfare, with enhancements for pedestrians (such as more crosswalks and strategic lighting), as well as improved retail and restaurant options. The Ninth Street plan is to redevelop the portion as a pedestrian-only street, which will include public access to a “pocket park” or urban green space area, and to encourage outdoor connectivity and community activities.

“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 chair, in a news release. “We are committed to helping this vital link between our campus and downtown Gainesville reach its fullest potential.”

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