GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)was recognized by the Florida Redevelopment Association (FRA) for outstanding redevelopment achievement during FRA’s 2013 Annual Conference on Oct. 31. The FRA awarded the iconic Depot Avenue Rail-Trail Pedestrian “Helyx” Overpass the Roy F. Kenzie Award for outstanding redevelopment achievement in the area of Transportation/Transit Enhancement. The FRA presents awards annually to projects that exhibit the best practices in Florida redevelopment over the past year.
“Earning the prestigious Roy F. Kenzie award is another fine achievement for Gainesville. It demonstrates that when local government and community stakeholders have a shared vision, great things are possible. We are all proud of this accomplishment and the great work our Community Redevelopment Agency does. This is just one of many on-going projects by the CRA, so the citizens of Gainesville can expect more successes to come,” said CRA Board Chair Susan Bottcher.
The Helyx pedestrian overpass spanning US HWY 441/Southwest 13th Street was redeveloped in 2012 into a functional and iconic gateway feature. The artistic design for the structure reflects Gainesville’s unique character by paying homage to the city’s history as a railroad epicenter and reflecting current and future trends in the innovation economy. The overpass structure and adjacent plaza enhance multimodal transit by providing additional connectivity to the existing rail-trail system, surrounding businesses, neighborhoods, the University of Florida and to downtown Gainesville. The synthesis of form and function in the design promotes, celebrates and reflects Gainesville’s way of life.
“We are deeply honored to receive this FRA award for what has become a symbol of what can happen when a community is united in a vision, is mindful of its historical roots, and is focused towards creating its own optimistic future. That message is communicated to those living, working and visiting our community as they pass through this iconic gateway into Gainesville,” said Diane Gilreath, CRA engineer and pedestrian overpass project manager.
A brief video showing the transformation of the Helyx overpass can be viewed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1AAN9cKMdw.
The FRA awards committee carefully selects the winners from more than 60 entries. All of the entries embody the spirit of successful community redevelopment and revitalization. “The FRA annual awards program brings statewide recognition to our members and their successful revitalization efforts,” said Marc Mondell, FRA president. “Progress made today will sustain new growth and redevelopment for our communities, and we are very proud of these efforts.”
Founded in 1974, the FRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting Florida professionals and volunteers in community revitalization efforts. With its mission of “transforming spaces, revitalizing places,” FRA is committed to providing a forum for its more than 300 members to share knowledge and common experiences regarding revitalization opportunities and issues. FRA advocates for quality urban economic development and urban infill, and serves as a statewide clearinghouse for redevelopment information.
The City of Gainesville established the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in 1981 to create a redevelopment framework in which the central city district will evolve into a more dynamic office, service, financial, entertainment, residential and governmental area. The authority to establish the CRA is enabled by Sections 163.330-163.45 Florida Statutes. Redevelopment is undertaken in four distinct redevelopment districts: Downtown, Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street, College Park/University Heights and the Eastside Redevelopment Areas. Redevelopment projects are coordinated in these districts by the CRA and implemented by a team of partners that includes other city departments and private citizens.