The Gainesville City Plan Board approved a developer petition on Thursday to vacate two sections of road downtown to accommodate the new Alachua County court complex.
The plan will need City Commission approval, and then portions of SW 3rd Avenue and SW 1st Street within the court complex block, around 0.13 miles, would close to vehicle access. Conditions in the planned development would allow continued pedestrian and bicycle access until construction starts, then again in the final site plan.
Cutting off the roads for the new complex has been included since the first planned development for the site in 2001.
The board approved staff’s recommendation 5-1, with board members Bobby Mermer in dissent and Stephanie Sutton, who works for the applicant’s agent, abstaining. Mermer said vehicles often use SW 3rd Avenue to avoid traffic congestion and closing the road would increase that congestion.
The parking lots currently on the site will change into new buildings as all court services consolidate on the block, including the civil court and the state attorney’s office. After development, the civil court building at Bo Diddley Plaza might then be open for redevelopment, or if county offices move into the building, the current Alachua County Administrative Building might see a new reuse.
Last week the Gainesville City Commission approved the first reading to amend the planned development, and a final reading will come next week.
Also at the meeting, the plan board approved a special use permit for a private school to open on NE 15th Street. Currently, a church and a daycare are on the property. The school will own the property, and the church and daycare will become tenants.
The permit allows up to 100 students, and the applicant said its number sits at around 30 students for the time being. The business starting the school has nine others in South Florida.