Since the 13th Street Walmart relocated in January, the plans for the empty building have been on skids. Now, the property owner has taken the first step toward redeveloping the location.

At a Sept. 3 meeting, Gainesville’s permit and development assistance agency First Step Center and property owner Kite Realty discussed plans to turn the site into a modernized shopping center with more tenants, trees and landscaping.

Nancy Testa, a permit and development coordinator for the First Step Center, also said no plans were certain for the area, but Kite Realty said it wants to remodel the former Walmart building and partition the interior into different parcels.

Testa said possible tenants have not been specified.

Erik Bredfeldt, the city’s planning and development director, said the meeting was a first glance at future plans for the site.

“They were reviewing options for redevelopment of the property,“ he said. “Though it didn’t appear they had any solid plans for it yet.”

Testa said First Step Center is used by companies for new developments or remodeling projects to guide them through the permitting stages and to send up red flags early in the development process.

“Kite Realty had no red flags because they’re basically just proposing a remodeling of the existing building,” she said. “There’s nothing now that could stop the project if they intend to go through with it.”

While the city’s planning department intends to aid Kite Realty in the redevelopment process, some Gainesville residents also plan on getting involved.

John Hudson, president of Hudson & Company Inc., a local building inspection company, said he is working with the City of Gainesville to start a committee of residents who will focus on coordinating public and private efforts for the redevelopment.

Hudson said a committee will ensure that cooperation among city government, the general public and developers enables the project to run smoothly.

“We have to work together to come up with answers that work for that property,” he said.

A version of this story ran on page 5 on 9/27/2013 under the headline "Former Walmart location could be a shopping center"