Construction on one of the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency’s eastside projects is underway at the former spot of Kennedy Homes. Stacy Fort grew up on SW 16th Street on the city’s east side. He played in those streets as a kid and attended the University of Florida. His father, George, bought their house in the 1960s and has been here ever since.
“You know, I think I was there when we moved in this house,” Stacy Fort said. “That was 52 years ago.”
The Fort home sits just down the road from Heartwood, the CRA’s new housing development. The groundbreaking happened last fall, and construction began just a few weeks ago. Project manager Shawn Moss said the agency has secured a site contractor for the first phase of work.
“(The contractors are) working with the civil engineers to create the structure of the neighborhood,” he said. “And once the structure of the neighborhood gets in place, then we start talking with general contractors to build.”
The construction right now includes the road infrastructure, retention pond, and walkways within the community. Still, Fort has concerns about the project; he’s worried about the increase in property taxes that was estimated by property valuation experts for the smaller homes in east Gainesville where other residents live.
“It’s mainly for my father,” Fort said. “He’s approaching 80. Ain’t like he’s working. So if you take his taxes up from say, whatever he’s paying now — three to five — to six or seven, that’s a big burden on him.”
Moss said the CRA is attempting to bring a new fabric to east Gainesville, but hints that it may be tough to provide that affordable aspect in the process.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do is produce quality living for east Gainesville,” Moss said. “I can’t say that you mix quality living with affordable living, but our goal is to make it to where it can be affordable, but it would still be quality living.”
Fort wants the neighborhood to maintain the quality it has, but said keeping it at a certain level would help the neighborhood and maintain the taxes the residents currently pay.