“Gainesville’s Urban Now” a photo-essay

I have been trying to get this up on the old blog for awhile. However, it has taken forever. I presented Gainesville’s_Urban_Now at Pecha Kucha Gainesville Vol 2 held back in early fall of 2010 at Volta Coffee and Tea. The raw, original presentation is viewable below via Slideshare.

However, since I didn’t get a recording (either video or audio of the presentation and didn’t feel like recording a narrated slideshow) I want to post each slide below. Then I will insert the text passage which I used as my “speakers notes”.

Perhaps I will at some later date include some additional post presentation commentary. Project, status, plans into action or in even new examples.

Basically, I am going to be talking about some things going on, what could be happening and some challenges. Also, some PR for stuff other locals are already doing. What I believe = Regionalism-Localism-knowing a place and being a participant…

Is the Era of the big project over? No more new developments? Post-recession, post-crisis, the new normal? At the same time we have seen renewed interest in green cities, food systems, and urban metabolic cycles. Perhaps, because of all this, soft infrastructures or approaches are being explored. Soft as in temp vs permanent, responsive vs static, again feedback loops

The answer has been mostly real estate developers, government (state, local, CRA) or institutional [University of Florida, Shands Teaching Hospital etc). Often tax financed, or tax exempt, relatively expensive, big. Or you have galleries, lofts, the creatives or students. Like some of these projects: The Palms, University Lofts, Innovation Hub Phase II.

Jefferson at 2nd Avenue apartments in background. Abuts an historic church, which they have had to preserve/keep intact but now with new context. Also, features of one Gainesville’s few instances of the use of a sidewalkshed. First that I know of.

In terms of institutional development, UF/Shands have in the tens of LEED certified buildings. So there’s that. Otherside, is its tax exempt, top down, big. From this image looks like cafe culture/consumption. What about production?

Old community hospital, gone. One local op-ed suggested turning now cleared land into, at least temporarily, a green space. A new local community gathering space or ‘hub’.  Instead Shands/UF wants to build Innovation Hub for startups, spinoffs. Within walking distance of campus and downtown. Innovation (productive) vs healthcare (service)?

Hospital land is huge site. Will be developed in stages, for now this. Beginning with about 10 acres out of 40. Office park/estate. Nice enough visually but where are the people, street-life? Only for post-industrial innovators? A hub for business of community?

Another local actor is CRA. Local, government/tax funded urban redevelopment. Mostly for physical blight, infrastructure etc. Visible corridors, districts. For instance this new multi-usage corridor. Is redevelopment the same as gentrification? Upside is with CRA there is per name “community” involvement, at least.

Re: gentrification, this sort of new securitized, cleaned up (of homeless, note the benches) improved community park. Now with a dog park. Downtown, and ready for business. Here again, a top down, hard approach.

Soft infrastructure? User-generated, urban activism, entrepreneurial. Soft as in an organizational structure. Or an infrastructure that is social, non-physical? Based on networks, relationships or maybe flows? In legal terms a cooperative community based vs hierarchical, structure? What about productive and green cities?

A local CSA with the help of a soon to be nearby Co-op. Downtown or at least adjacent. A productive-literally-downtown. Just started an urban farming branch of their main farm. Using volunteers, for teaching and demonstrations. Visible, civic statement. What can you do with an acre? Alot…

It’s mainly about building connections. Getting people together. Work days. You can do it. Hack-tivism? Lots of empty lots. Reuse or remediation. If only visually. An edible landscape. Like the local guys at the Farmers Market, who will do your lawn. But scaled up to the lot.

What if soft equals temporary? This spot is a main corridor, downtown. Highly visible vacancy. Already examples of temp use. Corner of 13th + University where old commercial site used for football game parking. There again stalled project, market dependent, tax incentivitized. Or the way people who pay a fee can sell parking for game day. De-centralized, “resilient”, built in capacity..

Came across this while walking downtown. In a local gallery window. Anybody know this guy? I tried to email. What about taking this beyond a poster? Turning it into a temporary beer garden? A “pop up’ cafe? No money needed just a space? A place for public gatherings? Or maybe no physical cafe just a legalized space to drink in public downtown?

Some opportunities some challenges depending on how things are developed. AGH, Cabot/Koppers Superfund site, new downtown district and Depot Park. These all involve large scale land parcels. Remediation, new parks, new downtown development districts.

Did you know Gainesville had a Superfund site? It has been identified as such since roughly mid, late 80s. Long-standing concerns, overdue studies, inevitable lawsuits. The tension is between containment and remediation/restoration. Adjacent to schools, residential neighborhoods and large scale, of around 140 acres. Does containment lock in a certain development trajectory?

Cade Musuem of Innovation. Private, DIY (Gatorade money). Pushing creative agenda. Tourism and yet also local agenda. School programs would be key. Is there a downside to private initiatives?

The city plans a central park, downtown on remediated land. This is where Cade museum will be. Plus, public green space and some ecological infrastructures (green storm water and other living systems). Plus, GRU is relocating service support to new site, which will open about 16 acres. CRA wants to reconnect to city grid and tie in with rail to trail.

Top example is a farm being developed in post-Katrina, NOLA for Vietnamese-American community. Urban agriculture and social/ethnic development. Soft infrastructure of storm-water and canals. Or hactivism of small projects/groups. DIY, ecological benefits and could be self-funded. How could we apply these here?

Do something. Whether it is educating yourself, volunteering or even voting. Join a citizen advisory board. Read the local paper. Talk to people. Watch the public access channel and it’s broadcasts of public meetings. I started by picking up trash (and still do) along my commute.


5 thoughts on ““Gainesville’s Urban Now” a photo-essay

  1. Pingback: Thinking about “Innovation Square” « Thoughts on Everything under the Sun or I am a guilty Secularist

  2. Pingback: Bug Hotels: A pedagogical act of Social design | Thoughts on Everything under the Sun or I am a guilty Secularist

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