A $35 million hotel and mixed-use downtown development project took its ceremonial first step Friday with a groundbreaking ceremony.
The venture, which includes Gainesville’s first Hyatt-brand hotel, is expected to be completed in 2022. The development will be built on Southeast Second Place between South Main Street and Southeast First Street—across from the Hippodrome Theatre.
The Hyatt Place hotel will feature 145 rooms, a pool, a lounge, a restaurant and 1,800-square-feet of meeting space, according to a news release from developer AMJ Group.
The project also will include 39 one-bedroom and studio apartments and retail space on the ground floor.
"We are thrilled to be contributing to the growth and sustainability of our community," Mike Warren, the president of AMJ Group Inc., said in a release. "We aim to develop a hub-like concept where visitors, Hyatt Place guests and residents can enjoy a variety of restaurants and shopping together. Accordingly, the creation of jobs to the downtown area will only strengthen this historic neighborhood."
The city commission approved the Gainesville Community Reinvestment Area (GCRA) to sign an agreement with the developers to improve the public right-of-way around the new Hyatt Place complex, said GCRA director Sarah Vidal. Improvements will include things like wider sidewalks, better lightning and the creation of on-street parking spaces.
The commission approved the agreement in December and capped city expenditures at approximately $335,000. The city will inspect the right-of-way upgrades before reimbursing the builders.
“Downtown holds the highest taxable values per square foot in Alachua County; and redeveloping those underperforming/vacant sites in our downtown adds tremendous value to the city and county,” Vidal said in an email interview. “It also activates properties that have been dormant for quite some time and will generate more jobs downtown, more bed tax dollars, [and increase] customers [at] downtown events and eateries.”
As of December 2020, Hyatt had 500 hotels in development worldwide. The downtown Gainesville hotel is one of nine Hyatt properties “in the pipeline” in Florida.
Hyatt, which went from a 2019 net income of $766 million to a $703 net loss in 2020, said in its fourth quarter financial report that the leisure segment of its market was beginning to rebound with weekend and holiday travel bookings. However, the business-driven segment remained slow.
The company said in its quarterly statement that it expected increased vaccine distribution and the lifting of travel restriction to improve its 2021 outlook.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include Sarah Vidal's comments and information on the GCRA involvement.