Thousands of UF students and residents worried about what Gainesville would be without The Swamp Restaurant Wednesday.
They searched for ways to save the restaurant and found Daniel Weldon’s petition on Change.org called “Save Swamp Restaurant Gainesville.”
“We’re showing that there are so many people who don’t want to see this happen,” said Weldon, a 22-year-old political science and history senior. “The Swamp is kind of the heart of UF.”
As of Wednesday night, the petition had more than 15,530 signatures.
The petition was started after WUFT News reported on a neighborhood meeting held on Tuesday evening where 908 Group developers, of Tampa, proposed plans for a student housing apartment complex where The Swamp and surrounding business are located.
The 908 Group developers built the Nine and are rumored to be building the new student complex. It did not respond for comment after two calls Wednesday.
The petition is symbolic and will have no real action, Weldon said.
The properties in discussion for demolition are The Swamp Restaurant, Grill Fresh, a United States Post Office and Chain Reaction Bicycles.
Here’s what The Alligator knows so far:
A neighborhood workshop was held on Tuesday evening at the Holiday Inn University Center to discuss the development plan for a multi-family residential project between West University Avenue and Northwest 2nd Avenue and east of Northwest 17th Street.
Raleigh Faust, the owner of Chain Reaction Bicycles, said nothing is final yet. He has owned the bike shop since 1997 and said he’s heard similar rumors for years.
“I want to stay as long as I can,” Faust said. “I don’t want to move, but if I have to, I have to.”
Ron DeFilippo, The Swamp owner, said the restaurant has a month-to-month lease. He said he has also heard similar rumors for years, but this is the first time he’s ever seen plans.
He said he doesn’t know if any of the plans are certain, but he hopes to stay.
According to city records, no development plans for the proposed location have been submitted to the city yet. City planning officials could not be reached for immediate comment after calls and emails were made to the Department of Doing.
DeFilippo hopes The Swamp will be around long enough to celebrate its 25th anniversary on Dec. 30, which is also his 70th birthday.
The Swamp has become a Gainesville staple, and he said he was amazed by all the community support from the petition and how much students and residents want The Swamp to stay.
“They have learned everything. Their first drink, their first kiss, their first boyfriend or girlfriend,” DeFilippo said. “It’s a great experience going to the University of Florida and hanging out at the Swamp.”
A packed crowd at The Swamp Restaurant watch the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. There were jerseys from both teams present.