By CATHY MOUNCE, Register Staff Writer
Bringing new businesses to Gainesville and improving the lives of the city’s residents are high priorities for Kent Sharp.
The Gainesville Economic Development Corporation executive director outlined some new business plans at Tuesday’s Rise and Shine networking breakfast at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Sharp noted that he and other city officials have some assistance thanks, in part, to the economic development sales tax.
The tax was created in 1989 to give smaller Texas communities a financial resource to help expand business and create more local wealth. Since then, this tax has enabled over 500 communities across the state to be able to obtain resources for developing efforts, he said.
“During an election in 1994, Gainesville citizens approved the passage of one-fourth of one percent sales and use tax to promote new and expanded business opportunities for the city,” Sharp said, adding, “Last year’s tax for the GEDC resulted in almost $1.9 million in revenue for community development. The City of Gainesville received a much larger amount as they receive a full one percent sales tax for general operating expenses and they also received one-fourth of one percent for property tax reduction.”
Sharp also explained the two types of economic development corporations.
Type A economic corporations, he said, focus on a hard core industrial base.
The GEDC is a Type B corporation which is authorized to facilitate Type A programs and can also assist in retail, commercial projects and quality of life projects including parks, professional and amateur sport and athletic facilities, tourism, entertainment facilities, affordable housing and other improvements or expenditures that promote new or expanded business activity to create or maintain primary jobs.
Gainesville is apparently poised for several positive changes including the development of the Locke Field property into a 144-unit apartment complex in Gainesville.
Sharp said an investment group is interested in purchasing the 9-acre land parcel.
“We should find out in the next 30 days if everything is a go and if so, building could commence as early as August this year,” he said.
Additional residential property is needed, Sharp noted.
“With the expansion of GAF Materials and other possible business coming to the area, new housing opportunities would be a great incentive for new employees that may be enticed to move to Gainesville,” Sharp said.
Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lynette Pettigrew said the new apartment development is designed to fit seamlessly into the South Weaver Street neighborhood.
“The builders came and toured the city of Gainesville and incorporated a craftsman style design for the apartments that would fit in well with the community.” Pettigrew said. “We think this will be a great addition for the city.”
Sharp also said the buyer for the Gainesville Outlet Shops backed out of the deal and that the complex is still owned by Woodcrest Capital. The property was placed on the auction block in early April.
Land west of the outlet mall is a prime location for the development of a proposed business park, Sharp added.
Additional business news includes the opening of a Church’s Chicken on Grand Avenue. The restaurant will occupy the former Taco Casa building.
Sharp also reported that Gainesville’s DMAX cinema is going strong.
“The DMAX is doing well and is looking at putting in two more screens for our community,” he said.
Finally, Sharp noted new restaurants may be opening in Gainesville and two prospective tenants have expressed interest in the Grand Avenue building which once housed the Blockbuster video store.