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Friday, April 19, 2024

The Gainesville City Commission voted 6-1 Oct. 19 to approve The Knot Climbing Gym’s proposal to redevelop the old RTS Administration and Maintenance facility to the south of Depot Park.

City Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker was the sole commissioner who voted against the proposal.

In the proposal, the Knot Climbing Gym, located at 704 S. Main St., would be expanded and adapted to the former RTS facility in addition to the construction of a new building. The total price of the planned proposal is $19 to $27 million over the next seven years. 

The RTS facility will be redeveloped on a 5.2-acre site located at 100 SE 10th Ave. The purchase of the original property was pulled from Federal Transit Administration funds. The proposal will repurpose other existing facilities to create a fast-casual dining restaurant and a 15,000 square foot skate shop and bike rental.

Additionally, the plan’s final phase includes an 8,000 square foot stationary wave surfing facility that will host competitions and the construction of approximately 37 townhome housing condos.   

The plan’s mixed-use components intend to enhance Depot Park into a bustling hub to amplify Gainesville as a sports-centric destination for residents and tourists, according to the proposal. 

The City of Gainesville also received a proposal from The Florida Music Hall of Fame, Inc. However, The Knot Climbing Gym’s proposal was unanimously recommended by the evaluation committee as it aligns with the city’s pre-existing Downtown Gainesville Strategic plan

Commissioner Reina Saco believes the proposal’s mixed-use components will have a bit of everything Gainesville needs in that area, she said.

“I’m excited about the type of housing that is available,” she said. “Because that is part of our missing middle component where it is a step in the direction of homeownership for many people, oftentimes their first step.”

Saco is also excited about the potential for more venue spaces to be leased out for parties, graduation events and shows.

Commissioner Bryan Eastman said the proposal fits into the mixed-use plan envisioned for Depot Park. 

“It's a very ambitious project and whether or not [The Knot Climbing Gym] would have the ability to go forward with it … they have a lot of banks that have been willing to put financing and everything behind it,” Eastman said. “I think we have a kind of unique situation here where they're creating something that's cool that fits in with what Depot Park is, an expansion.”

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Commissioner Casey Willits was also impressed with the adaptive mixed use that the Knot proposed, specifically with the idea of a potential live-work situation for its new housing areas, he said.

“We’re talking about taking care of a lot of the needs of the city: more parking, more tax dollars coming in now, because it would be taxable, potentially selling it and getting some of the product,” Willits said. “If money can go to RTS, if the federal government allows us to keep it, that would be a great idea.”

Duncan-Walker believes there is still an opportunity to incorporate aspects of the Florida Music Hall of Fame’s proposal into the project, she said. 

“That was something that I saw great vision in as a lover of music,” she said. “To continue to move us toward that goal of making Gainesville a cultural capital, a place of regional significance in terms of music that celebrates local artists.”

Mayor Harvey Ward highlighted there will be at least two public comment opportunities in the future to speak on the proposal in addition to informal opportunities such as contacting the City Commission via email.

Contact Kat Tran at Follow them on Twitter @kat3tran

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Kat Tran

Kat Tran is a second-year journalism major and is the City & County Commission reporter for Fall 2023. They are also interested in a pre-law track (entertainment law). You can find them daydreaming about rainbows, unicorns, and sunshine in their free time. Currently, they are recovering after seeing Lana Del Rey live. 

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