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Everything posted by zed

  1. zed

    Gainesville projects

    Here is an article providing some updates on University Corners. It sounds like progress is being made.. http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a...10337/1078/news
  2. Cool, thanks for the updates. I lived in Boise from 2001-2003. I'm surprised to hear an airport expansion is on the agenda again. The current version was just finished in 2004, no? It would be great if something could be made to happen with the Boise Tower. Having an open pit in downtown for 4+ years is quite unacceptable...
  3. zed

    Gainesville projects

    Gainesville does have some kind of a height restriction on buildings (not sure why or what the exact limit is). Some former students stay in Gainesville but there is limited work outside the university and service sector that supports it. I think part of Gainesville's 'problem' with development has been the university's location away from downtown (13 blocks). This divide has caused there to be a "no man's land" between the immediate university area and downtown. Further, I-75 was located a good 5+ miles away from downtown, causing development to sprawl away from the main city onto the abundant cheap land. There has been some success keeping downtown alive, but certainly Gainesville's development has been dominated by commercial sprawl, low-rise apartment complexes and single family homes.
  4. I think "brutalism" is a disgrace to the public realm and merely a technique for one-upping in the architectural community. The Boston city hall presents nothing but blank walls at ground level, creating an aura of grit and callous urbanity. It further sends the message that the architect does not care about the experience of those outside the building. A blank wall should be good enough for the eye! The monochromatic exterior seems inspired by the architecture of the Soviet Union and further assaults the eye without providing any visual reward. When looking at that building, my eye is drawn nowhere. It is just a uniform edifice of plainness. In short, I find that building an abomination. It reminds me of similar buildings on university campuses across the nation, built by similar architects that abhor adornment, windows, and love the idea of blank concrete as a visual medium. To keep on topic, I'll post a picture of the Vancouver BC city hall which was built in 1936 and does have an art deco flavor (not to the extent of Miami however!)
  5. San Francisco's is the most impressive I have seen personally. It seems worthy of being a state Capitol building. You can also see it in some of the Dirty Harry movies! Not sure how it compares to Philly however.. SF City Hall Website
  6. zed

    Gainesville projects

    Original Article Article published Jan 7, 2005 Wal-Mart's supercenter could replace Northside Park In recent weeks, the regulars at Gainesville's Northside Park have found themselves sharing the space with a new group of visitors who aren't there to walk their dog or play a few holes on the park's disc golf course. The newcomers - engineers and surveyors working for Wal-Mart - have been doing preliminary site work on the property to see whether, as some city officials suggest, it is suitable for one of the retailer's supercenters. Wal-Mart officials have preliminarily agreed to putting a store at the Northside Park site, located at NW 34th Street and U.S. 441, Wal-Mart spokesman Glen Wilkens said. But before putting forth a formal proposal, the retailer's engineers must examine the site, a process that includes taking soil samples, surveying and measuring the site and noting various features of the property. But some of those who use the site and live nearby say the process is moving too quickly. "It seems a little premature to me," said Shawn Harrigan, a frequent park visitor and president of the Gainesville Disc Golf Club. "Nobody has really discussed any of this with the people in the community." Harrigan and other residents said the supercenter proposal, originally suggested after the company twice failed to gain city approval for a development on a site about a mile away, at NW 53rd Avenue and U.S. 441, is making regulars nervous about the future of recreation in northwest Gainesville. Particularly of concern for Harrigan is Gainesville's growing disc golf community. The course at Northside, built about 15 years ago, is the only one in Alachua County for the more than 200 people who regularly enjoy the sport, he said. Disc golf is almost identical to its more commonly recognized cousin, with small discs - similar to Frisbees - thrown at baskets, rather than balls hit toward holes. The sport is growing in popularity locally, with Northside hosting the Gator Country Classic, an event on the Professional Disc Golf Association tour, as well as two statewide events each year, Harrigan said. Eighty-five disc golfers competed in last year's Gator Country Classic for $8,801 in prize money, according to the association. If Wal-Mart decides to situate its supercenter on Northside, the retailer will likely have to replace it with a park at the 53rd Avenue site. However, some people who rely on Northside for recreation are worried about losing the park before a replacement can be built on the 53rd Avenue site. Wooded, swampy areas, like those found at both Northside Park and the 53rd Avenue site, are ideal for the sport, which focuses heavily on dealing with obstacles, Harrigan said. For a deal at Northside Park to go through, city officials said Wal-Mart would have to offer the larger 53rd Avenue property as a trade. In addition, the retailer would have to develop the site as a park to replace the Northside facilities. City officials estimate replacing the amenities at the park would cost about $1 million. Wilkens said the company is prepared to replace the park's facility, including the disc golf course. Jonathan Coron, who lives near Northside at the Northwood Oaks subdivision, said he worried about the loss of a park, especially after the recent failure of Alachua County's Better Parks-Better Roads sales tax, which would have provided funding for recreation projects. These concerns would be mitigated if similar, or improved, facilities could be built to serve the same community, said Coron, who said his position as a wellness education specialist at Columbia Correctional Institution gave him a particularly keen interest in recreation. "If we're going to replace one space for another, it would be in our best interest to make that space far better," Coron said. "It would be a win-win scenario instead of a win-lose." Harrigan said replacing the facilities at Northside with a similar, nearby facility would solve most of the community's concerns. But, he said it was important that improvement of the NW 53rd Avenue site begin before construction at Northside, so that people who depend on the park have a place to go during the site's development. Wal-Mart officials are interested in developing the Northside Park site along with a second property on Waldo Road in east Gainesville, Wilkens said. The Waldo Road site has been pushed by commissioners and residents who have said it could help jump-start economic development on Gainesville's east side. "We would want to do this in tandem, both sites together," Wilkens said. "It's not one before the other." But Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan said the commission is bound to look at each proposal on its own merits. "They consider those a package deal," Hanrahan said. "I don't think legally we can consider them a package deal." Jeff Adelson can be reached at 374-5095 or [email protected]
  7. Original article Article published Jan 2, 2005 Big projects revisited Whatever happened to those really grand projects? Patricia Crawford doesn't pay attention to the non-believers. The Gainesville woman knows there are skeptics who doubt her plans to build a $400 million movie studio in Newberry will ever materialize. She's aware that some would rather lump it with the projects that promise at the blueprint stage to be the first, the biggest, the best, but in the end disappear with little but rumors and speculation in their wake. "You're always going to have the naysayers," said Crawford, who maintains that plans for the studio are progressing and that financial backing is materializing. "What are you going to do about them?" Here's a look at five of the many large-scale projects to capture Alachua County's interest in the recent past, and an update on whether or not the big dreamers who spearheaded the proposals are still working to prove the naysayers wrong. It would have been the tallest building in Alachua County. Developers of the Midtown project, proposed for a four-block area at SW 2nd Avenue and SW 6th Street in Gainesville, hoped to build a high-rise complex in Gainesville that would have included a 26-story building. Two shorter towers would have housed apartments for University of Florida undergrads and a hotel, and retail stores would have occupied the ground floor of the buildings. UF grad Ben Schachter and his father, Marvin Schachter, who was a consultant on the project, ended three years of controversy about the project when they failed to meet a deadline in September for submitting plans to Gainesville's planning department. Ralph Hilliard, city planning manager, said from the city's perspective, the project is now "dead, really." "Everything has expired," Hilliard said. "The project, the process, is over." The developers would have to start the development review process over with a new proposal, Hilliard said, and a new city height restriction would require them to apply for a special exception to build their high-rise building. The Schachters could not be reached for comment this week. They have not said whether they plan to file new plans for the project. SPRINGTREE STUDIOS Crawford unveiled the movie-studio project in 2003, outlining a plan for studios, a performing arts theater, an amphitheater, classrooms, sets including replicas of London and Paris, special effects capabilities, restaurants and other features. Then, Crawford called Springtree Studios "the future of North Florida." A year and a half later, Crawford said plans are still on track to build the movie studio in Newberry, and said she could file plans with the city as soon as the fourth quarter of this year. "We are entering into a joint venture agreement with a financier, the private arm of a major public corporation," Crawford said. "I am not at liberty to release the name to you . . . Those financiers have been here. They're been in the area. They have visited several times, and we are now launching our first couple of motion pictures." She said one of those movies features Kelly LeBrock, who starred in "Weird Science" with Anthony Michael Hall in 1985, among other movies. Crawford said she is considering several sites for the project, which she estimated could cost about $400 million, and still has her sights set on Newberry. For now, she said, she's been focusing on producing the movies "that would justify need for a studio." MINOR-LEAGUE BASEBALL The Gainesville G-Men played minor-league baseball for more than three decades before the team folded in 1958. The Gainesville Sports Organizing Committee wants to bring minor-league ball back to Gainesville, and leaders of the group say the project is alive and well. Jack Hughes, executive director of the committee, said the group will determine its next step after seeing what kind of state funds are available for ballpark improvements this year. "There have been, over the last three or four years, special appropriations that have gone toward improving major- and minor-league facilities," Hughes said. "Winter leagues and spring baseball are such a large part of the state's sports-tourism industry that there have been dollars provided to promote them." After that, he said, the committee will turn its attention to seeking public and private partnerships to help fund the project. Hughes said the group has been working with the owner of several minor-league teams to secure a team to play in what would be a multi-million-dollar stadium on the campus of Santa Fe Community College. GAINESVILLE ICE RINK When Lester and Patti Burkett opened a new Skate Station Funworks roller rink at the end of NW 76th Boulevard in Gainesville, they planned to convert their N. Main Street location into an ice rink. But they abandoned those plans when a Toyota-Acura dealer made an offer on the building, a manager for the company said. "It's dead in the water now," said Dave Balogh, a manager at Skate Station Funworks. "It's really just something they'd thought about doing, but aren't thinking about doing anymore." PRO GOLF AT UF Before the $4 million worth of renovations that produced a golf course at the University of Florida that now ranks among the top college courses, there was talk of doing more. UF athletics officials had previously discussed building a brand-new golf course capable of luring professional tournaments to Gainesville, said Bobby Pugh, a spokesman for the school's athletics department. But officials apparently dropped those plans following the 2001 renovations of the current course, Pugh said. "The plans were not necessarily to build anything affiliated with the PGA, but to draw in some more tournaments from outside the area," Pugh said. "It didn't pan out. From what I've been told, there has not been any discussion about reopening those plans anytime soon." BIG DREAMS Residents may balk at projects that call for skyscrapers in Gainesville or laugh off visions of movie stars in Newberry. But to the dreamers of the big dreams, the naysayers are just that. "In any situation, particularly in an industry that a lot of people don't understand, people want immediate gratification," Crawford said. "This is such a large project. People just aren't going to see the day-to-day progress that we make." Hughes, too, said taking a long view of an ambitious project is part of the challenge. The committee has lured the state high school football championships and a regional air show to Gainesville, Hughes said. Why would minor-league baseball be such a stretch? "The reality is that this is a long-term process, and patience is a virtue," Hughes said. "I tell myself that every day." The planning officials who review such projects are quick to note that a lack of belief on the public's part has little bearing on whether or not a project succeeds. "Generally, people in Gainesville are very peculiar about anything that's new," Hilliard said. "But there are things getting built every day that someone living in Gainesville doesn't like." Susan Parker, a Newberry city commissioner, was president of Newberry Chamber of Commerce when Crawford unveiled the project. Though she'll be wearing a different hat when and if the movie-studio proposal hits the Newberry City Commission for approval, she said as a business leader and a private Newberry resident she has high hopes for the project. "I was thrilled to meet Kelly LeBrock when she was in town, and we are still very excited about the possibility of a studio in Alachua County, in Newberry," Parker said. But she and Hilliard both said that when it came time for government review, all proposals were on equal footing. "There are no wacky projects," Hilliard said. "Every project is treated like the same under city code." Amy Reinink can be reached at (352) 374-5088 or [email protected]
  8. Here is a shot of downtown Boise, Idaho, taken in February 2003. This is looking north along Capitol Avenue. You can see the Idaho State Capitol dome (modeled after the US Capitol) and the US Bank building, the brown building that is the tallest in Boise. The red brick buildings to the right of the avenue are part of Boise State University.
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