City employees and citizens gathered at Bo Diddley Plaza Wednesday for a community feedback session about the future of downtown Gainesville.
The study of downtown coincides with other studies by the city, including its Imagine GNV and a zoning review and inclusionary study.
City organizations like the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, Visit Gainesville, the Hippodrome and Cade Museum also set up booths.
At the session, citizens worked through four different stations on the Bo Diddley Plaza stage.
The first station had participants work through a form that let the city know, among other things, where the participant lives in the city, how often they visit downtown, their age and how long they’ve lived here.
Another station had yellow dots where people pinpointed their address on a large map of downtown and greater Gainesville.
A third station asked members to write down their vision for downtown, asking questions like the top three things you would change about downtown or opportunities the city should take advantage of.
The last station asked for guiding principles that Gainesville should keep in mind.
“The citizens are the users, are the owners and are the power, the champions for downtown,” Sarit Sela, Gainesville city architect, said. “So we want to know what works well and what doesn’t.”
She said this community session is a continuation of months of information gathered from previous surveys, focus groups and talks with commissioners and downtown businesses.
From here, the city will launch an online survey and a comment wall on its website that will be available for a month. Staff will then prepare an engagement brief for the commission that will summarize the feedback. The brief will constitute the city’s starting point to form a plan for the downtown.
In the spring, the plan will go public for another round of feedback and staff will make adjustments.
Sela said the city has taken its time on the project but hopes to have the final strategic plan ready in the summer of 2022.
The city planned to host the feedback session in August, Sala said, but COVID-19 surged and staff delayed the event.
Downtown has changed over the last several years, with the Bo Diddley Plaza renovations, current work at the Hyatt Place, changes to Depot Park and the construction of the Cade Museum.
More programming has also arrived at Bo Diddley Plaza and Depot Park but, Sela said, work remains.
“We want to have a vision that we can work towards so we have a direction that we all put effort towards,” Sela said.
The community can give feedback at the city’s website and stay up to date with event info as well as flyers and project timelines.