Local music lovers gathered Thursday night hoping to inspire change upon something that most knew was unchangeable — the tearing down of their treasured cultural hub —The Jam
“The Jam is part of what makes Gainesville so unique,” Jason Traub said. “We probably won’t change anything tonight, but it’s important that we share.”
Over thirty people came to City Hall to share their stories on how the Jam had impacted their lives.
“It provides a space for balance. It’s full of human connection, empowerment, open-mindedness and acceptance,” Naomi Langley said.
The City Plan Board met to hear the petition for a preliminary permit to develop a new apartment complex and retail space on the block of Southwest 8th Avenue and Southwest 1st Avenue.
Currently, The Jam, along with Addiction Tattoos & Piercings, Silva Back Tattoos and the Unified Training Center occupy the existing structures on the block.
Plans are already in place to demolish the current buildings and construct the new facility.
Causseaux Hewett & Walpole Inc, the land development firm designing the new project, petitioned before the board to modify various rules surrounding the permit for the space, specifically the minimum width required for sidewalks and landscape zones.
The board showed primary concern for the width of the sidewalks and how the new building would aesthetically affect the more quaint midtown area.
The board unanimously approved the changes to the permit requirements, except for the sidewalk minimum width reduction, which will remain at 10 feet.
As public comment opened, more than 20 people lined up to show their support for their beloved buildings and surrounding businesses.
Blake Briand, co-owner and manager of The Jam stood up first to speak.
Briand told the board The Jam is more than just a hangout spot. Over the past three and a half years, the venue played host to 1200 musical performances, 20 charity fundraising events and a wedding.
Alan Tyson, a Gainesville local, also conveyed his disdain for the planned demolition.
“When you bulldoze The Jam, you are bulldozing our culture,” Tyson said.
When public comment concluded, the board expressed their gratitude to those who got up to speak and share their concern for their music community and cultural confluence.
“I knew there was a culture like that in Gainesville,” Board Member Terry Clark said. “I just didn’t know how passionate it was.”
However, Vice Chair Bob Ackerman made it clear the City Plan Board doesn’t have the authority to prevent the landowner from the demolishing the current structures.
The project will be moving forward despite opposition.
Not everyone who spoke at the meeting was against the development and growth of midtown, just the way its being implemented.
Benny Cannon, another Gainesville local, told the board, “We want Gainesville to grow, but not at the expense of our cultural imprint.”