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Friday, June 21, 2024

Gainesville is seeing a revival of community-based neighborhoods due to New Urbanism, a development philosophy that creates sustainable communities that are walkable distances to shops, schools and jobs.

The construction movement is modeled after traditional neighborhoods.

In recent years, several communities have popped up around Gainesville sporting New Urbanist architecture and planning, according to David Coffey, a land-use attorney and former mayor of Gainesville.

"Haile Village Center and Plantation is an excellent example of the proper execution of New Urbanism," Coffey said.

To build a New Urbanist structure, all the essential elements must be present, such as the right placement of the building in relation to the street and enough space for pedestrians, he said.

Although there are not many examples of New Urbanist structures in Gainesville, a lot of the development is moving in that direction, Coffey said.

The movement helps the environment, he said, but the structures differ somewhat from green buildings.

Green structures relate to the types of materials used in construction, while New Urbanist buildings are more concerned with proximity to jobs and services to cut down driving, Coffey said.

"There's no question it creates the opportunity for more energy-efficient lifestyles," he said.

A healthier environment is not the only benefit of adopting this construction style, said Michael Conroy, principal of Lionshead Investment Group.

His business follows the philosophy in its projects.

The developments are pedestrian-friendly, ecologically sound, extremely convenient and promote a closer community, Conroy said.

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"Intrinsic to New Urbanism is the concept of mixed use and the concept of people living and working and shopping and being entertained all in the same area," he said.

One of Lionshead's newest projects, LionsGate Condominiums, currently being built at 1500 NW Fourth Ave., will be a New Urbanist structure in terms of architecture but not function, he said.

However, the building's proximity to campus reflects the movement.

"People want to be where the action is, and they don't want to be in cars as much as they did 40 years ago," Conroy said.

"They want to be in a walkable environment, which is what New Urbanism promotes."

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