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Monday, October 18, 2021
<p>Commissioner Randy Wells and assistant director of Facilities, Planning and Construction at UF Linda Dixon discuss Innovation Square on Tuesday afternoon at a special economic development meeting at City Hall.</p>

Commissioner Randy Wells and assistant director of Facilities, Planning and Construction at UF Linda Dixon discuss Innovation Square on Tuesday afternoon at a special economic development meeting at City Hall.

City and university officials met Tuesday afternoon to discuss creating a new city district around Gainesville's up-and-coming Innovation Square.

Gainesville City Commissioners Jeanna Mastrodicasa, Todd Chase and Randy Wells met with university officials who are overseeing the project to consider establishing a Business Improvement District to encompass the newly developed area.

The district would give Innovation Square the ability to make its own rules regarding issues such as landscaping, trash pickup and marketing strategies, said Ed Poppell, who works with the UF Development Corp. and who has overseen the project since it began in 2010.

Innovation Square covers 40 acres around Southwest Second Avenue where Alachua General Hospital once stood. It is a project funded by the city and UF that aims to create an urban environment consisting of residential space, high-tech businesses, retailers and restaurants.

Allowing Innovation Square to have its own district would promote collaboration between the city government, the stakeholders and the residents, said James Izzo, development consultant for UF Development Corp., at the meeting.

"It would function like a neighborhood association, but with a lot more pull," Poppell said in an interview.

The commissioners liked the idea and agreed to discuss the exact boundaries of the proposed Business Improvement District at the next commission meeting.

Commissioners also decided to talk more about changing parking areas in and around Innovation Square at the next commission meeting.

Officials would like special permits to build parking garages instead of parking lots to provide more room for buildings.

Commissioner Randy Wells and assistant director of Facilities, Planning and Construction at UF Linda Dixon discuss Innovation Square on Tuesday afternoon at a special economic development meeting at City Hall.

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