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Additional Parking, Lighting and Community Access Planned For Midtown Area

The Community Redevelopment Agency plans to break ground next year on a 10-month project that would double vehicle, scooter and bicycle parking, add lighting and landscaping, redo the sidewalks and place utility lines underground on Northwest First Avenue.
On Sept. 15, the CRA board approved the project, which is halfway through the design phase, to move forward with the final steps before construction.

“To me, it’s taken on an alley-like feel,” Susan Wynn, CRA project manager, said about the stretch from 20th Street to 16th Street.

Project managers are currently working with businesses in the area to address their concerns.

During the construction phase, the street will be divided into four sections to maintain accessibility. The exact start date has not been set, Wynn said.

“Obviously we don’t want to do it during football season or those busy, busy times,” Wynn said. “We’re still trying to work with the business owners and figure out what would be the best approach.”

Adrienne Harrow, manager of the Midtown restaurant The Coop, said the redevelopment plans sound great, but there are drawbacks. She said construction and parking are her biggest concerns.

“It’s such a hassle right now in Midtown,” Harrow said. “Half the people don’t want to come even anywhere in Midtown because there’s no parking.”

Harrow said she has a building construction background and knows things get delayed all the time, unless there are high damages associated with the schedule.

“(Ten months) is a lot of time, and that could be a lot of hindrance for businesses and our business as well,” Harrow said. “Especially if there’s no parking currently, and they’re blocking traffic from getting in.”

Juliana Gutierrez, a resident near Northwest First Avenue, said she's glad the redevelopment will improve the poorly lit street.

“Most of the places around here are very dark, so, to have more lighting, people will feel more secure,” said Gutierrez, a University of Florida student. “I think that’s a great investment."

Gutierrez, 24, said she used to live very far from campus. Now she lives closer and has parking provided at her apartment complex. However, when she had to commute she said she always struggled to find parking in the area.

Wynn said the CRA created a Facebook page last month to use as a forum for people to communicate and share their thoughts about current projects around Gainesville.  The page is still new, and the CRA is working on building its following.

“We’re trying to figure out a way to put out a call to students to let them know about the project and how awesome it’s going to be when it’s completed,” Wynn said, “and kind of solicit their help to make sure they support the businesses during construction.”

Wynn said the Northwest First Avenue project in particular is very high need.

“It needs to be done – it’s past time for it to be done,” she said. “It’s just doing it in a way that’s going to be best for everybody.”

Kai is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing