UF Health buys vacated Nationwide Insurance building

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 6:49 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Nationwide Insurance building on the corner of SW 34th St. and Williston Rd. in Gainesville has been empty for a few months after some of their employees were laid off or moved to work remotely.

UF Heath officials signed the closing documents on Friday. The idea is to re-locate some administrative employees to the building to free up office space near the hospital for physicians or scientists.

“More and more in the last several years we’ve had a space conundrum. Where do we put these people? Where do we put these fantastic clinician scientists. Where do we put these fantastic faculty who are doing amazing surgery or doing amazing physician care,” UF Health Shands CEO Ed Jimenez said.

Jimenez also said some of these medical professionals have been using rented offices away from where they work.

“If we rent space all over Gainesville, over the life of paying rent, that will always be more than buying equivalent space, so part of the fiscal piece of this is making a fiscally responsible decision,” he said.

According to UF Health, tax attorneys will have to figure out if the property will be tax-exempted and the price of the sale has not been made public yet. Employees will begin to move into the building in January.

UF Health’s acquisition of the building could also be good news for nearby businesses.

“COVID was a main reason we lost a lot of foot traffic but then the second big hit we took was when Nationwide left,” BleuBird Wings Owner Ronnie Patel said.

BleuBird Wings is a restaurant located across the street from the vacated Nationwide Insurance building. Like several business owners in the area, Patel said he is looking forward to potentially getting new customers as UF Health employees begin to move.

“A lot of new community members moving on this side and you have a lot of food options on this side. I’m sure that all of us will flourish because of that," he said.

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