Gainesville city leaders evaluating city-owned land purchase proposals

The commission voted 4-3 to move forward with two gym owners' proposal to buy land south of Depot Park, but also vet other offers for the land.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 6:46 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - One more way Gainesville leaders could address the city’s debt is by getting rid of underused properties.

At Thursday’s City Commission Meeting, city staff presented The Knot-Climbing Gym owners’ proposal to buy five acres of city property. The land is just south of Depot Park and was once used for the city’s bus service. Now, it lies vacant as extra parking for Depot Park.

The proposal would expand the gym, add extra retail space, and potentially even a skate park to the property. A 2016 appraisal estimated the land to be worth more than $1.8 million, but that estimate could be much more now.

RELATED STORY: ‘I’m cautiously optimistic’: GRU customers react to draft bill creating governor-appointed GRU board

Commissioner Reina Saco made a point that right now the property is more of a liability and the city should look into selling it and other properties.

“This property has generated zero dollars in tax revenue and we are liable for anything. If someone trips and falls, or touches a power line, does anything it is our responsibility,” said Saco.

The commission voted 4-3 to post the opportunity to buy this land to more potential buyers but also continue working on the gym owners’ proposal as well. Commissioners Ed Book, Cynthia Chestnut, and Desmon Duncan-Walker voted against the move; However, the commission voted unanimously to have city staff draft a comprehensive list of all of the property owned by the city.

Residents in attendance at the meeting, such as Jo Beaty, say the city’s track record with previous purchases to private developers gives them little faith the right decision will be made.

“It’s like Groundhog Day, I will mention Phalanx ... Peaceful Paths. these are three of the instances where I’ve sat here and witnessed where the city’s disposed of property really to the detriment of the citizens,” said Beaty.

The commission is hosting a special meeting into what could come of the city’s Power District in the coming weeks.

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.