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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Alachua County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to settle with ability housing for almost three million dollars. 

Alachua County will re-acquire 13 acres of land in East Gainesville, originally intended for affordable housing, from the nonprofit Dogwood Village for $1,840,934. The total settlement will cost the county $2,964,730.60.

The move comes months after Alachua County pulled funding from the Dogwood Village project. The project was originally set to create 96 units of affordable housing in East Gainesville, but after protests from East Gainesville residents, commissioners reconsidered, halting the project. 

The Settlement

After the project was halted, the company threatened to sue for $15 million. Once the settlement is completed, Alachua County will be essentially released from any claims arising from the initial project.

David Forziano, a senior assistant county attorney, said the agreement allows the county 60 days to follow through with the agreement, assuming there are no title defects or survey issues.

“In exchange for [purchasing the lots], we get a full release for any and all claims filed unfiled, known or unknown,” said Forziano, “The same boilerplate language we typically have when we settle a case.” 

Resident Sentiment

Approximately 15 residents spoke in favor of settling with ability housing. Many simply thanked the commission for the settlement. One of the public commentators was city commissioner Duncan-Walker, who spoke to the county commission previously about equity. She said that there has been a lack of investment in East Gainesville for generations. 

“It’s about the economic impact in the lives who need it most,” Duncan-Walker said in a public comment.

Another public commentator and  East Gainesville resident, Wayne Fields, said he believes the development will help increase economic growth.

“This will make a world of difference in East Gainesville,” Fields said in public comment.

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Investment

The three million dollars will be pulled from Alachua County’s reserve fund and will impact the 2024 fiscal year. 

County Commissioner Ken Cornell said the initiative should will allow the county to remain committed to prior promises.

“We have the opportunity to basically follow through with what we wrote two decades ago,” Cornell said.

Now, residents will have to wait and see if Alachua County Commissioners find other developers for the repurchased area.

Contact Gabriel Velasquez Neira at gvelasquezneira@ufl.edu. Follow him on Twitter @gvelasquezn.


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Gabriel Velasquez Neira

Gabriel Velasquez Neira is a second-year Journalism major, and the Audio Editor and Metro GA Reporter. In his free time, he enjoys sleeping, taking photos and playing guitar.


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