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Sunday, February 05, 2023
Seminary Lane Protest 1

Protesters hold a banner that reads, "#StandForSeminaryLane," demanding that developers refrain from building luxury student apartments on land located in a historically Black community.

 

The fight to protect historic Black neighborhoods in Gainesville will continue at the next City Commission.

At the Thursday meeting, City Commissioner Gail Johnson proposed a moratorium, or a temporary stop, to pause the development of high-end apartments targeted for UF students.

The moratorium stems from Seminary Lane, an affordable housing complex in a historically Black neighborhood that was demolished in 2009. Residents of Seminary Lane were promised that affordable housing would be built on the plot, she said, but an Orlando developer is now trying to build luxury student housing.

With UF’s plans to expand, these neighborhoods are under pressure, Johnson said.

“I’ve lived through gentrification and seen an entire borough go from a diverse place to one that only wealthy people are able to live at the expense of Black people and family-owned businesses,” Johnson said.

To Johnson, the wealth gap in Gainesville will continue to grow with more development. She believes the commission and UF need to take the year to create a master plan to address these concerns.

As a fifth-generation Porters resident, City Commissioner Gigi Simmons said she related to residents’ concerns.

Porters is a neighborhood between UF and downtown Gainesville, Simmons said. Two years ago, Porters residents gathered to oppose UF plans of expanding student housing, she added.

“Our neighborhoods are uniquely different and each community has their own spirit, so there will not be one specific solution that fits all,” Simmons said.

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe suggested that equitable development be the only item at the next commission. He said he wanted to look at land development code ahead of the meeting.

Because the commission has previously discussed equitable development, Johnson continued to push for the moratorium.

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“It’s already been a year-and-a-half, and still we have had nothing,” she said.

The commission is set to further discuss the moratorium at the next city commission meeting.

Serra Sowers contributed to this report.

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