Officials break ground on Highland Park development in Newberry

Gromax officials and investors break ground alongside local officials.
Gromax officials and investors break ground alongside local officials.
Photo by Glory Reitz

Local officials gathered in a field on Wednesday morning to break ground on Highland Park, a 128-acre development on the south side of State Road 26 between SW 242 Street and Newberry Lane. 

“We want to build and develop great places for people to live, great places for people to work, and great places for people to shop and recreate,” Paul Grohman, an owner of Gromax Development, said in an interview. “We’re really excited about it. People, when they actually see that, ‘wow, this is gonna be good for me,’ we love that.” 

Paul Grohman, a Gromax Development owner, said Newberry is a good location for business development.
Photo by Glory Reitz Paul Grohman, a Gromax Development owner, said Newberry is a good location for business development.

Gromax is based out of Pearland, Texas, but is expanding its operations in Florida. Gromax partner Tommy Miles, a Chiefland resident, is in charge of Gromax Florida, and he said he expects the development to bring a lot of revenue to Newberry. 

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Grohman said “turning dirt” is the most exciting step in the process, as progress finally becomes visible. 

The development will begin with 150,000 square feet of commercial space, including a Wawa gas station and with the possibility of a Culvers, a CVS, a Slim Chickens, a Starbucks and a McDonald’s. The Wawa comes with a stipulation from the city that a new traffic signal be added to the intersection of Newberry Road and Newberry Lane. 

Over time, Gromax plans to add 350 dwelling units. 

City Manager Mike New said when he was hired, the city commission asked him to help promote business growth in the town. New said that the task was more difficult than he had expected, but that Newberry’s growth in houses and residents was what it needed to attract the ultimate goal of businesses. 

“That’s what the community really, really wanted, was some reasons that they could stay in Newberry and not fight the traffic to get to Gainesville for goods and services that they wanted,” New said in a speech at the groundbreaking. 

The Newberry City Commission approved the Highland Park construction plans two weeks ago after a year-long application process. 

City Manager Mike New said Newberry is looking for more businesses in town.
Photo by Glory Reitz City Manager Mike New said Newberry is looking for more businesses in town.

Donald Long, a member of Newberry’s Planning & Zoning Board, said people want to be able to come home to Newberry and be able to stay in town after a long day at work, while still having access to things like restaurants and grocery stores. 

Tommy Miles, a partner with Gromax, said he was excited to be getting started after a year-long application process.
Photo by Glory Reitz Tommy Miles, a partner with Gromax, said he was excited to be getting started after a year-long application process.

“We get to see the meat potatoes of this little piece of life, and what it can do and what it can bring to the city,” Long said in an interview. “And right now, with the amount of homes people have been complaining about coming to Newberry, businesses are something we look for.” 

Long said the planning & zoning board also worked with the developers to preserve a historic house on the property, which was built from the same stone as Newberry’s municipal building, according to Mayor Jordan Marlowe. 

“That’s the level of commitment that they [Gromax] have, to ensure that they are real partners with our community,” Marlowe said in a speech. “They have partnered with us on infrastructure. They are going to help make sure that we have a stoplight out here, that we’ve got the water capacity. They truly have just been amazing.” 

The groundbreaking was advertised only by word of mouth, but the event tent was packed with attendees, including Sheriff Emery Gainey, Newberry Commissioner Tony Mazon, Newberry Fire Chief Mike Vogel and State Representative candidate Chad Johnson. 

High Circle Ventures, a private equity/real estate investment company based out of Texas, is partnering with Gromax on the Highland Park project.

Mayor Jordan Marlowe said the application process is thorough so there is no reason to say 'no' by the time it reaches the commission.
Photo by Glory Reitz Mayor Jordan Marlowe said the application process is thorough so there is no reason to say ‘no’ by the time it reaches the commission.

Editor’s note: Information about High Circle Ventures was added to this article.

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