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Sunday, October 24, 2021


Robert Thomas, 43, stands in front of his tent behind the old fire station in downtown Gainesville where he says it’s “more peaceful” on Thursday, June 10, 2021. Thomas doesn’t know what he’ll do if the SPARC arts center is built, but says he’s willing to fight for the people camped out on the property.

Future uncertain for Gainesville’s South Main Street homeless encampment

The Old Fire Station, where about 15 people live in tents outside, has been vacant since 2018, and in February 2020, the city commission invited proposals for how to use the space. In April 2020, UF Center of Arts proposed replacing the Old Fire Station with a community center for wellness, arts and cultural engagement, but current residents have largely been left out of the conversation. 

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