An old train depot in Gainesville may soon become the city’s premier eatery.
The Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency, the company responsible for the reconstruction of the 13th Street overpass near Shands, held an informational meeting Monday to answer the questions of prospective restaurant owners.
The company is looking for two restaurants to place inside the reconstructed Old Gainesville Depot, which will be a major part of the company’s Depot Park project.
Kelly Hauer Fisher, the interim director of the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency, said the reason for placing restaurants inside the restored depot was due to the company’s previous success with restoring restaurants, such as the Lunchbox Café in downtown Gainesville.
“I think people will go out of their way for food if it’s really good, so you might not live right next to Depot Park, but you’ll come down here for a great meal,” she said.
Fisher said the company also chose to place restaurants inside the Old Gainesville Depot because it wanted the building to be active.
“We didn’t want to have it just be kind of a musty old building that you sort of look at and say, ‘Oh, that’s nice. It’s a historic building,’” she said. “We really wanted it to be a really active part of the city and of Depot Park.”
Fisher said the company is currently looking for either one tenant to run two different restaurants in the building or two different tenants with two different restaurants. The idea is to have one restaurant be café-style and the other a full-service restaurant.
Fisher said the potential tenants would have to submit a business plan to the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency. The plan would have to include business information, a list of the tenant’s previous experience and the business’s concept and character.
The application deadline for potential tenants was extended until Nov. 7
Fisher said a potential tenant would also need to understand the limitations on the Old Depot Building’s space because it is a historic building. The tenant would need to understand how to run a business, especially in the current industry.
Fisher said there are not any incentives for using the building’s space, but that the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency does offer economic development tools, such as small business loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Fisher said the building itself could also be seen as an incentive.
“We have taken on a lot of the cost that normally a business might have to incur if they were to just find a site and want to set up shop. So that’s really the built in incentive, ” she said.
Fisher said she is not sure how many businesses are currently interested because applicants only speak with the company’s purchasing department, but she said several people have shown up to meetings where they could see the building.
“I hope if people haven’t seen the building they come by and take a look,” Fisher said. “If you’re interested in operating one of the restaurants, I think this is going to be one of the premier places in Gainesville, right next to the Cade Museum. We’re just really excited.”
More information about applying for the restaurant opportunity at the Depot Building can be found on the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency’s website.
Paige Parrinelli edited this story online.