Archer Community Center awarded historic status

This is what the Florida Community Design Center is all about:

“Roberta Lopez said the reconstruction of the [historic Archer] gymnasium into a community center began in 2002 after she was elected to the city commission.

“Lopez asked the commission for the key to the gymnasium, which she had noticed was boarded up despite the red brick being in good condition.

“When I opened the door, all I could see at that time was the potential for the building to be utilized as a community center,” she said. “It had a stage and a lot of open space. And while it was dirty, I didn’t see any of that.”

The next day, Lopez went to the Florida Community Design Center and told them what she had in mind.

“I walked out with an architect, a UF professor, and a grad student who helped me to come up with a plan,” she said. “From there, it’s history, but it took a lot of hard work and sacrificing.”

For the full story: visit

Jean Chalmers: Expand options for renting rooms in Gainesville

By Jean Chalmers / Special to The Gainesville Sun
Posted Jan 25, 2019 at 2:00 AM

Good citizens are grappling with the issues of how to save single-family neighborhoods, but still provide affordable housing to working folks.

We are at a point in the growth of our community where the value of land near the University of Florida is higher than the value of many of the older structures on that land. That makes it very attractive to developers that wish to tear down the old houses and build more living units to use the land more efficiently.

One approach is to allow ancillary housing structures on that valuable land, resulting in a better use of scarce space and saving much of the older housing stock. There seems to be a consensus that such small houses, which are in demand by young people in the market, should be allowed.

As always, the devil is in the details. Will the city be willing to lower minimum square footage standards to increase density and affordability? Will tiny houses only be allowed on owner-occupied lots or can they be allowed on absentee landlord lots? Will they have separate meters and how will extra parking be accommodated?

Another approach may be to allow owners of single-family homes to carve out a simple room that could be rented to a single person or a couple. Such a space, with a Pullman kitchen and a bathroom, would be very attractive to a single person or a couple.

About 50 years ago property owners began installing second kitchens in their homes in order to rent out a room or two to accommodate the new people coming into town during that period of rapid growth. There was a huge protest from the folks who lived in single-family neighborhoods.

They were afraid that single homes being turned into duplexes would change the character of their area with too many transient people accompanied by cars, noise and trash. As a result, in the 1970s the City Commission passed ordinances making it much more difficult for property owners to increase density in single-family neighborhoods.

One ordinance limits occupancy of a single-family residence to only three unrelated people. This was to prevent the spread of off-campus fraternity-type housing that brought late-night noise, front-lawn parking and a lack of maintenance into quiet neighborhoods, where most homeowners have nine-to-five jobs.

Another ordinance prohibited a second area in a single-family home from being turned into a place for the “preparation and storage of food.” This was to prevent single-family homes from being used as duplexes.

If the city would rescind its ordinance as it relates to second kitchens, I believe it would create an incentive for homeowners to prepare small rental units in unused space, thus creating more affordable housing. For many empty nesters, the income from such a rental may just make it possible to “age in place.” Of course such rentals should fall under the landlord-licensing purview of the city and the owners should pay the licensing fee and abide by off-street parking restrictions.

In addition, we need single-room occupancy buildings (SROs) for folks on limited incomes. Developers investing in Gainesville simply see the student market where four bedrooms with a private bath, shared living space, a kitchen and a laundry room is in demand. This is not an arrangement that serves working people well. They need a quieter, private space.

Some one-room efficiencies are provided by hotel chains that charge for cleaning and management services and are out of the price range for most working people. We need to encourage the development of simple buildings that supply good quality single rooms for folks who cannot afford more.

Most large cities in America have entire buildings that were dedicated to SROs but when they are converted to luxury apartments the homeless rates go up. Many such buildings were demolished in downtown Atlanta in preparation for the 1996 Olympics and the homeless rate soared at that time.

When I got off the boat in New York City with two suitcases, a small trunk and very little money, a kind longshoreman showed me the “room for rent” section of the New York Times and I soon had an 8×10 room in the apartment of a nice Swedish lady uptown. In Gainesville today, with all its restrictions, I would have been homeless.

Reprint from The Gainesville Sun

Ask An Architect with Josh Shatkin on Friday April 20th, 12n to 1pm

Drop in, and ask questions about architecture & design. Co-sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gainesville Chapter, and the Florida Community Design Center (FCDC). Location: FCDC, 101 N. Main Street, Gainesville FL 32601.

Free on-street parking along N. Main St (between University Ave and 2nd Ave); along NE 1st St (between University Ave and NE 1st Ave).

Meter Parking only 25 center per 30 minutes along NE 1st Ave (between NE 1st St and N. Main St)

Internship Opportunities at the Florida Community Design Center

The Florida Community Design Center (FCDC) is excited to announce two internships now available through the Design Center. We are looking for two energetic and enterprising individuals with experience and education related to planning, sustainability, policy, and/or economics to join our team for the spring, summer, or fall semester. Interns will take on a semester project, as well as work as a team to create publications and media to support the FCDC efforts.

Take a look at these job descriptions. Community programs and projects serve the Gainesville, Alachua County, or other Florida community by providing investment and support for people who need it most. All too often, the projects and communities that need the most support get the least. If you have experience working at a local community level, let us know. We are happy to field any questions. Send us your application with attached resume, cover letter, and any other qualifying information. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Community Projects Intern

● This intern will be responsible for staying in touch with one or more community projects. They will need to stay on top of each project they work on, and develop and commit to a timeline for each project. Finding the resources for each project and supporting the project team will be crucial. Providing support and outreach for each project will help it succeed.

● This intern will be responsible for requesting assistance from local professionals, other interns, university faculty, city staff, and anyone that is willing to donate their time, money, or energy to help see the projects succeed.

● This intern will help support other intern’s projects and provide resources and assistance to the FCDC team when needed.

Community Programs Intern

● This intern will be responsible for keeping the FCDC in touch with the community programs that operate within the city and county and providing them resources and support to succeed in their goals.

● This intern will write grants to provide support for the FCDC, the projects that flow through the FCDC, and the community programs that support local people. Previous grant writing experience is a plus.

● This intern will keep the FCDC updated of important volunteer opportunities and provide the outreach and support for some of these programs.

● Knowledge of various outreach tools from social media to newspapers and publications will help this intern succeed and provide support for community’s programs.

The two internships being offered will encompass the following responsibilities within the FCDC:

● One spring or fall semester part time internship commitment of 300 hours. That’s approximately 20 hours a week, half of which can be on your own time, half at the FCDC.

● Interns will select between multiple projects to allocate their work and resources. These projects can range from design projects to community development programs. All projects that flow through the FCDC are sustainability related. Previous volunteers and interns have worked on topics such as tiny houses and affordable housing, park design, landscape architecture, downtown parking, local business advocacy, and bike trails, among others. Choose a project that YOU want to work on, and you get to form a team to work on that project. This will encompass the majority of the experience.

● Interns will collectively be responsible for planning, designing, and distributing a monthly publication that will be shared with leaders in local government, business, and other organizations.

At least two students will be selected for these positions. Again, these are unpaid internships. If you have an internship requirement within your college or major, we will assist you in seeking to structure the experience to count as practical experience. For example, the Sustainability and the Built Environment major requires either a 6-credit internship or a 6-credit Practicum course. These internships will satisfy the Practicum course for SBE majors.

Here is the Google doc application to apply! Download it, complete it, and return it to Or print it out and drop it by our office at 101 North Main Street.

Please include your resume, a brief cover letter telling us why you would like this opportunity, and any other qualifying material you would like to include (such as references, or examples of past work you have completed).

Please feel free to contact us with any questions! Email us at, or call us during regular business hours.

Randy Wells, Executive Director: (352) 318-9410

Public Meeting Planned for Depot Avenue/SE 7th Avenue and SE 4th Street Reconstruction Projects


I’d like to invite you to a public meeting on October 12th to discuss the coordination of the Depot Avenue/SE 7th Avenue and the SE 4th Street construction projects. There will be a brief presentation describing the scope of work, the anticipated schedule, and temporary traffic control being considered. I hope you can attend and please help spread the word to any friends and neighbors you think may be interested.

What: Public Meeting about Depot Ave/SE 7th Avenue & 4th Street Reconstruction
Location: Historic Depot Building
Hosted by: City of Gainesville Public Works Department

If you have any further questions for me in the interim or would like to meet on site to discuss project specifics, please let me know and I’d be happy to meet when convenient for you.


Stefan Broadus, PE
Project Engineer IV
Public Works – City of Gainesville
(352) 393-8406

Community Design Workshop for South Main Street

Greetings Community Stakeholders:

With the recent opening of Depot Park, the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is seeking input and feedback from the public on possible improvements to the segment of South Main Street between Depot Avenue and South 16th Avenue. The CRA invites its citizens and stakeholders to participate in the design process by creating your ideal street. We are asking the public to submit designs for the corridor that best accomplish the project Guiding Principles as established from citizen and CRA Board input.

Multiple opportunities over the next several weeks will be available for citizens to submit their ideas for how the 100′ of right-of-way along South Main Street could be configured to address the project Guiding Principles of:
(1) improve safety & connectivity for motorists, pedestrians, & bicyclists
(2) address increased parking demands associated with Depot Park and the Cade Museum
(3) improve the identity & visual character of the corridor
(4) balance the flow & accessibility of the street for all users

The first way to participate is to build and submit your concept by utilizing an interactive on-line design tool. This web-based program will allow you to insert and prioritize various streetscape elements such as vehicular travel lanes, on-street parking, bicycle facilities, landscaping, sidewalks, etc. while maintaining the 100’ of right-of-way.

Visit the following link for a complete overview of this process and how to submit your designs! Peak Democracy South Main Street (

The second way to participate is by attending the planned Community Design Workshop any time between 12P-8P on Monday, August 29 or any time between 9A-12P on Tuesday, August 30 at the Gainesville Fine Arts Association @ 1314 South Main Street. The public is invited to DROP-IN at their convenience during the two-day workshop to take part in the design process of South Main Street by building an interactive model of your proposed street. Your design concept will then be recorded, documented, and eventually presented to the CRA Board for their consideration. CRA staff and its design team will be on-hand to assist you in the process and answer any questions.

Please consider sharing this announcement and we thank you for participating in this project and look forward to receiving your creative input!


Andrew Meeker, RLA
Project Manager
Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency
802 NW 5th Avenue, Suite 200, Gainesville, FL 32601
Office 352-393-8205 | Fax: 352.334.2132 |

Meet the Artist in Residence: Oliver Norden


Editor’s Note: Since June 2016, Oliver Norden has served as Artist in Residence for the Design Center. Here, he describes the unique ideas and talents that he brings to his music, sculpture, and other artistic pursuits. Come out for ArtWalk on July 29th, 2016 between 7pm and 10pm to meet the artist Oliver Norden.

Creating an Emotional Landscape in Music and Art
by Oliver Norden

For my first thirty years, I lived in Europe, growing up in Belgium. During my childhood in Antwerp, I was profoundly influenced by my parents’ artistic interests and the importance they placed on culture. The placed a high value on the richness and variety that life has to offer.

Growing up, I visited museums all over Europe and viewed the great works by the old masters. Music and art filled our home always. My parents liked to listen to world music. But more than anything, we listened to classical music.

My mother is a sculptor now living in Antwerp, Belgium. My father was an antiques dealer. My brothers are still antiques dealers and living in Europe.

At the age of fourteen, I began to study piano. I was classically trained in my twenties. As a teenager, I spent entire afternoons in the library in Antwerp where I could listen to vinyl recordings of the great composers and at the same time read original sheet music by the composer. I was especially influenced by Chopin, Beethoven, and Mozart. As a young adult, I studied art in college and eventually earned my Master’s Degree in sculpture.

I remember going to auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s with my mother. Once, I saw a Kandinsky painting for sale. Like Kandinsky, I was interested in the colors and shapes that can be found in abstract art and music.

Kandinsky once wrote, “Music is the ultimate teacher.” He sometimes used musical terms to label his works, calling them improvisations and compositions. Music had a strong influence on the early development of abstract art. Music and abstract art do not describe the exterior world, but rather the internal world of emotions. Kandinsky’s series of paintings called compositions were primarily concerned with evoking a spiritual resonance between the viewer and artist. In the same way, I explore emotional expression in my music and art, creating a resonance between my piano and my listeners.

I moved to the United States in 1999 and settled in Florida, because I had family living here. I began to develop my visual art, working mostly in airbrush and sculpting. Profoundly influenced by my new environment, I began to explore improvisational variations of my favorite composers on the piano.

My piano improvisations have much in common with my sculpture. Using harmonic chords influenced by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and Mozart, I weave a free flowing, textured, and three dimensional form for the listener. Interwoven through the piece, I insert moments of dissonance and then pull you back in the harmonic. In this way, I give my audience and emotional landscape that we both can explore. I create an emotional vibration that resonates through my audience.

July 27th Public Forum Planned on UF Strategic Development Plan

UF students, faculty and staff, and members of the greater Gainesville community are invited to a public meeting Wednesday, July 27, where they will hear about progress on UF’s Strategic Development Plan and have an opportunity to provide feedback on future planning. The meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the GRU administration building’s multipurpose room at 301 SE 4th Ave.

The Strategic Development Plan will seek to provide a road-map for the university and surrounding community’s future that supports UF’s rise to preeminence by identifying the best opportunities for wise growth, economic viability and livability, allowing Gainesville and UF to rise to preeminence together. UF, along with consulting firms DumontJanks and Elkus Manfredi, will finalize and release the plan by December.

At this meeting, representatives from the university’s planning team will provide a brief introduction and overview of the work to date and then will facilitate several discussions focused on the themes of re-centering, uniting, and sustaining our community.

Work to date on the Strategic Development Plan includes a CoMap survey, where the UF and Gainesville community indicated where they live, work and socialize, and how they get from point to point. The survey also revealed Gainesville’s strong sense of connection with outdoor areas that surround our community.

UF leaders and the consultants have been meeting with key community stakeholder groups, including community leaders and business owners, about the plan since February, with meetings scheduled to continue into the fall.

For more information, visit the Strategic Development Plan website, and to download a PowerPoint presentation shared with the UF Board of Trustees in June.

You can also sign up for the latest news and updates regarding the plan.

We hope to see you there.

15 Years of Bringing Together Community and Good Design


Please join me in celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Florida Community Design Center (FCDC). Founded in May 2001, FCDC was established to promote good community design in the built and natural environment of Gainesville, Alachua County, and the State of Florida.

As of May 26th, I joined the FCDC as Executive Director. Thank you to outgoing Executive Director Forrest Eddleton for his service to the organization and community.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss the great volunteer partnerships that FCDC has engaged in over the last 15 years–and your ideas for how FCDC can contribute to our community and state over the next 15 years. Please contact me at 352-318-9410 or to schedule a meeting at our office, 101 N. Main Street.

Since 2001, FCDC has provided educational and reference materials about good design to the general public, provided training opportunities and continuing education for professional designers, and conducted numerous community design exercises, programs and initiatives. We have worked with established educational institutions, city and county government, and other non-profit and community organizations to provide future professionals with opportunities to learn while providing valuable design and community outreach services to the communities we serve. And we have conducted research in the principles, methods, and materials used to build sustainable communities, defined as those which balance economic, environmental, and social equity issues.

Randy Wells
Executive Director
Florida Community Design Center
101 N. Main Street
Gainesville, Florida 32601