Gainesville commissioners move forward with their efforts to help fund an east side grocery store

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 11:59 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Gainesville City Commissioners are making progress in bringing a grocery store to the east side of town, but there is a catch. On Thursday, commissioners voted 6-1 with Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker in dissent to direct the city attorney to draft a final term sheet and agreement involving a forgivable loan that would help create a grocery store in southeast Gainesville.

While some of the commissioners are happy with this proposal, others say neighbors aren’t so pleased with the idea of a Bravo.

“I’ve been getting a lot of concern about the store itself, about the Bravo itself. There are people who quite frankly are not interested in Bravo in east Gainesville,” explained Duncan-Walker. “That could be for a number of reasons.”

Commissioner Reina Saco believes if Fredrick Washington and his development group are willing to come in and help people, that is important.

“We can’t force someone to buy a property and build there,” explained Saco. “When someone affiliated with a grocery store it happened to be Bravo said we will build this that is good enough for me. If we as the city can help speed that along with that loan, that is where we can help.”

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Approximately $3.3 million from the American Rescue Plan funds given to the city will be allocated to the grocery store project as a forgivable loan. Certain bench marks have to be met for the loan to be forgiven, including employing people from the area, another one of the commission’s priorities.

Saco believes grocery store developers will listen to the residents about what they want to see on the shelves.

“They want to stock products that people want. They aren’t going say we are only carrying this type of cereal when everybody is demanding another.”

As part of the motion, the city manager’s office must perform a due diligence review while the term sheet is being written up. In the end, the city auditor’s office would conduct an independent review of the manager’s due diligence process.

The finalized term sheet is expected to come back to commissioners within the next couple of weeks.

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