Suggestions for the Springhills Development in Northwest Gainesville

By Dom Nozzi

May 2007

The City of Gainesville, Florida is mostly opposed to the Springhills project because they are concerned that such a large concentration of retail will suck retail energy from downtown and the rest of the urban area.

Fair enough.

I have that concern also. But why is everyone jumping for joy at the same time for a SUPERCENTER in east Gainesville that will do precisely the same thing? The supercenter will surely harm other retail in east Gainesville and suck much of the retail energy out of areas west of there, such as downtown.

I’d much rather have an enormous Springhills than Butler Plaza/Archer Road II in the NW 39th Avenue interchange location.

The battle to stop enormous retail in the Springhills location was lost when this community accepted (joyfully?) the ruinous decision to build and expand the capacity of the NW 39th Avenue interchange, and widen I-75 to 6 lanes. No force on earth is able to stop the retail tidal wave that is inevitably delivered to the 39th Ave interchange once those two things happened. The only (tragic) choice left to us now is whether we will have a Springhills “Lifestyle Center” (faux walkable, mixed-use Main Street) or Butler downloadPlaza/Archer Rd II. There is no possible way to have a “no development” option in this location.

Why are so many treating Springhills as if it was the worst thing ever to happen to Alachua County? It is as if a nuclear power plant was proposed there. Isn’t Springhills PRECISELY what this community indirectly decided on (and therefore asked for and deserves) when we opted for the pro-auto world we enthusiastically supported? Where on earth were these NIMBYs when I-75 was proposed for widening and the 39th Avenue interchange was proposed for expansion? Did they not realize that THESE were the decisions that made massive 39th Avenue interchange retail inevitable?? Seems to me these people need to be careful what they ask for (in this case, pro-car sprawl), because we might (will) get what we asked for (Big Box and Residential Sprawl).

Sure, I’d LOVE to see a compact, walkable, MUCH smaller, mixed-use project in that location. But that is completely out of the question now that we have widened I-75 and built a monster interchange at 39th Avenue. The unintended consequence of stopping Springhills is that we will incrementally get Butler Plaza/Archer Rd II in that location (because we will not have the land development regulations in place to ensure that – we squandered our efforts on failing to stop the development instead).

Why do I feel like the lone doctor in the Middle Ages who is pointing out that blood-letting is not going to cure a disease?


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Filed under Sprawl, Suburbia, Transportation, Urban Design

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