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Little progress in plan to convert former prison to homeless shelter

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The city of Gainesville is in the process of purchasing the former Gainesville Correctional Institution and converting it into a homeless shelter and social services center.

The city’s chosen site for the Grace Marketplace, as the shelter would be known, is an undeveloped property near Northwest 53rd Avenue. But District 2 City Commissioner Todd Chase said the prison has not been purchased yet.

“There’s no problems that I’m aware of really,” Chase said. “It’s just a process that takes a little bit of time.”

The purpose of the shelter would be providing services not only for the homeless but those in need throughout the community, Chase said. The city would provide food, educational services and safe places to sleep.

Chase said the next couple of commission meetings will involve a review of property appraisals and values.

“What I’d like to see is that this thing improves as quickly as possible,” Chase said. “We could potentially be offering initial services to the homeless by fall.”

Rachel Crosby wrote this story online.

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