Plans for downtown Gainesville hotel moving forward

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A new full-service hotel in downtown Gainesville is one step closer to becoming a reality.
But here's why some city commissioners say a contract drawn up by city staff is still too risky.

Lot 10 is the parking lot adjacent to Southwest 2nd Street and 2nd Ave and has sat empty for years. One of those reasons is because of a known environmental issue resulting from a dry cleaner on the site back in the '20s.

It's still unknown how severe the environmental issue may be but in the proposed contract there is a clause that of the sales price, 40 percent, will have to be set aside in a holding account in case a major cleanup is ordered.

City Commissioner David Arreola who voted against the proposal explained his worries. "The sales price is 2 million 340 thousand dollars. 40 percent of that is 986 thousand dollars which will have to be set aside. Iand, in any event, the Federal or State government triggers an environmental clean up all of those funds are potentially expendable for the clean up of what is now a private property or what would be a private property at that time."

However other commissioners say a 6-story 120-room hotel going into that site will bring enough tax revenue when it's complete to make the risk worth it.
City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos said, " it will produce significant tax dollars instead of it sitting empty for potentially 10 years from now which easily could happen if we don't move forward on this. We will make millions of dollars of property taxes that come into our community. Our downtown needs more people, this creates a vibrant downtown place. The businesses around the area, I've talked to the business owners, they have been waiting for a hotel there. There are people who may not stay around if the hotel isn't around, they know the hotel will make more money for them."

Mayor Lauren Poe added, "by not approving this and not allowing this to move forward we will lose by far more tax dollars with an unimproved piece of property than that 900-thousand dollars. So if it's a math problem than we will, theres' no question we will lose more money."

The commission voted 5-2 in favor of moving forward with the proposal from local companies "EDA Engineering" and developer "One Plus One Equals Three."
Construction could begin as soon as 9 months from now and will hopefully be completed in roughly 3 years.