Gainesville Butler Plaza Expansion Ok’d
The Gainesville City Commission on Thursday approved the massive Butler Plaza expansion that has been in the works for years, enabling the developer to add a town center-style shopping mall, big-box stores and 500 hotel rooms.
How they voted
Butler Plaza expansion zoning
Yes: Susan Bottcher, Todd Chase, Scherwin Henry, Craig Lowe, Jeanna Mastrodicasa, Randy Wells
No: Thomas Hawkins
Blue law repeal
Yes: Bottcher, Chase, Hawkins, Henry, Lowe, Mastrodicasa, Wells
Red-light camera contract
No: Bottcher, Chase, Hawkins, Henry, Lowe, Mastrodicasa, Wells
The 6-1 vote came on first reading, so a second vote will be needed before the approval is official, but the super majority makes it very likely the vote will hold up, meaning Butler Enterprises could potentially begin construction on the first phase of the project next year.
The commission also unanimously voted down a five-year contract to install red-light cameras at some of the busiest intersections around the city, apparently flipping from earlier in the day, when it appeared the measure had enough support to pass.
The Butler Plaza item dominated the evening session, with commissioners and Butler Enterprises’ planners and officials going back and forth over whether the plans met the city’s criteria in order to get the zoning changes the company was seeking.
Commissioner Thomas Hawkins, who cast the dissenting vote, said the internal street and driveway network did not meet the city’s comprehensive plan and would exacerbate congestion in the area.
“Whether it’s driving or walking or however you get around, it’s easiest to get around on streets,” Hawkins said, pointing out that the parking lot aisles that make up most of the network would force vehicles onto Archer Road and Southwest 34th Street. “Getting around in parking lots is difficult.”
Robert Gibbs, a planner hired by Butler, said that was “factually incorrect.”
“There’s no science there,” Gibbs said.