A new housing development in East Gainesville broke ground Wednesday morning.

Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency staff members and Gainesville city commissioners celebrated the groundbreaking for Heartwood Community, located at 1717 SE Eighth Ave. The complex will be built in one of Gainesville’s underdeveloped areas.

The new neighborhood will sit on a 15.1-acre lot and offer 34 single-family houses, a stormwater pond, nature trails and other amenities, said Adrian Hayes-Santos, the Gainesville city commissioner for District Four and CRA chairman.

The lots are expected to be available for purchase in January 2018.

“There has been a huge, pent-up demand for good quality, affordable housing in Gainesville,” Hayes-Santos said. “It’s kind of telling by the 400 people wanting to live here [in Heartwood].”

Construction will start in about two weeks and it will take about eight months to prepare the site for further building, Hayes-Santos said.

Hayes-Santos thinks the new project will show private developers the demand for more housing. He hopes there will be another spur of housing projects in East Gainesville once the Heartwood houses sell, rebuilding the vibrancy of the area.

Charles Goston, the city commissioner for District One, said he wanted to make sure the maximum price for a home would never exceed $170,000, that way people from different economic backgrounds would be able to purchase a home.

“This is going to basically help flip the neighborhood,” Goston said.

Goston said there’s a large difference between West and East Gainesville, which he addressed in his speech.

“The key to realize when we’ve made our objective a reality, is when this side of town looks just like the west side,” Goston said.

The project has been in the works for almost a decade, said Michael Beard, the project manager for the Heartwood community.

Beard hopes the new community will attract a mix of residents from all parts of Gainesville.

“You go across Waldo Road, there’s no Publix, there’s no real medical facility,” Beard said. “You have to go to the other side of town to get those amenities. Why shouldn’t the people of East Gainesville have those amenities?”

Timothy Williams, a Santa Fe biology junior, grew up in the East Gainesville area and said he remembers how bad the old community, Kennedy Homes, used to be. He said there were high crime rates.

Kennedy Homes was destroyed by a fire and demolished almost a decade ago, Williams said.

Now, Williams works two jobs and hopes to buy a house facing the water once construction is finished.

“It’s pretty good what they’re doing, I can definitely say this is a good thing,” Williams said.