Big construction is taking place behind Butler Plaza.
The expansion of Butler Plaza, known as Butler Plaza North, began in October 2014, and the construction is expected to be complete by the end of the year. According to the website, the size of development will encompass about 750,000 square feet of new retail stores and parking. Lowe’s Home Improvement store was the first retailer to open its doors this past January.
Other superstores including Wal-Mart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Sam’s Club are all expected to open during the summer, according to Cory Preshick, vice president of finance at Butler Plaza Enterprises.
“[It’ll be] very positive for the quality of life in Gainesville,” Preshick said.
Ivette DeSantiago, a student at UF, said she’s particularly looking forward to the Wal-Mart Supercenter because she finds the current Wal-Mart’s selection too limited.
“I have to go to Wal-Mart and buy some stuff, then go over to Publix and buy the rest of my stuff,” DeSantiago said.
The new store is expected to open in August.
Other restaurants, grocery stores and specialty shops such as Jimmy John’s, Aldi, Eyeglass Express and Orangetheory Fitness are expected to open by summer.
Preshick said the expansion is all a part of the company’s plan to “keep the Gainesville consumer in Gainesville,” so residents aren’t required to travel as far to find the right stores.
Stores not previously in Gainesville, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Marshall’s clothing store, are central to the plan. Preshick said Dick’s Sporting Goods is scheduled to open in June.
Jeff Taylor, a frequent shopper at Butler Plaza, said he’s particularly looking forward to Dick’s Sporting Goods because it’s a good place to go for fishing bait and other outdoor needs. He said he’s also looking forward to Sam’s Club relocating to the new plaza.
“I never went to Sam’s Club much because it’s on the other side of town,” said Taylor, referring to the store located on NW 13th Street. Taylor said once the new store opens, he’ll be visiting the store often. Sam’s Club is expected to open in July.
The plan is for all the stores attached to the current Wal-Mart on Archer Road to eventually relocate to Butler Plaza North, Preshick said. Once all the older stores have been vacated, they will be demolished, and the new approximately 350,000-square-feet Butler Town Center will be built on top of it.
This center hopes to bring “exciting lifestyle shopping experiences” and is projected to be complete in 2018, Preshick said. Whole Foods has already agreed to have one of their stores in the center, and he said the grocery store will be the center’s anchor.
Preshick said the expansion aims to be positive for Gainesville’s economy with jobs being created due to the construction and new stores bringing in more employees. New road systems are also creating more pathways for people to get to the plaza and lessening the traffic pressure.
“It’s been pretty amazing to watch,” Preshick said.
Other businesses expected to open in Butler Plaza North are Culver’s, Sports Clips, Ashley Furniture Homestore and Lee Nails.
Adreenah Wynn, a student at UF, is also looking forward to the completion of the expansion because this will lead to stores that are easier for residents to reach.
“I’m just happy as long as there’s things that are close for the community,” Wynn said.