Proposed property concerns residents, but the developer assures they are working with the community

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 11:31 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A development group from Atlanta plans to renovate the property where St. Michael’s Episcopal Church used to stand in northwest Gainesville. However, residents of the Suburban Heights community near the proposed project on the northwest side of the city are concerned that a drive-thru could be bad for traffic.

“There is not a lot of places for traffic to go. When we put more and more and more densely occupying these areas and change zoning that was conservation and office to very high-density high traffic generators, it’s the residents of Gainesville and the neighborhood that are near that suffer,” explained Marsha Mott, a resident of Suburban Heights.

Kevin Frazier, a partner at Wilson Development Group, wants people to know they are committed to working with residents.

“The initial development had three drive-thrus. Based on the feedback from the neighborhood, we eliminated two of those to reduce the intensity of the uses in the project, and that was specifically based on their feedback,” according to Frazier.

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He explained that drive-thrus or pickup windows are a requirement for many retailers.

“It is a necessity in retail that wasn’t as much of a necessity before the pandemic that now is a necessity,” said Frazier.

However, Mott said she and other residents would ask the development group to look at retailers that don’t require drive-thrus or pickup windows. They believe if the already busy intersection of Northwest 43rd Street and 23rd Avenue becomes backed up, it will impact their neighborhood.

“With a drive-thru with this much volume and not adequate traffic safety measures in place, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen,” explained Mott.

Frazier said the development group wants to work with the community.

“We want to be a great neighbor. We want to be a positive addition to the community,” explained Frazier.

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Mott believes once you change things like, this you can’t change it back.

The development group has not purchased the land yet, and they have been in the planning phase for about four years now. There is no set timeline for when this project would be completed or what retailers would be included in the project.

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