The long-awaited Depot Park is now open to the public. Construction fences came down Aug. 1, and since then hundreds of visitors have had the chance to experience Gainesville’s 32-acres of park, playground, trails and more. Named after the 1860s-era train station that served as Gainesville’s main railroad hub for 60 years, the urban park showcases the city’s cultural heritage.
This $5.9 million park includes a football-field sized children’s adventure play area featuring the blue grotto - an underwater cavern-themed splash pad; a water’s edge promenade designed to host food truck rallies, art shows, festivals and car shows; outdoor grills and picnic pavilions; dramatic entry features; nature trails and more.
The Depot Park Grand Opening Celebration is Saturday, Aug. 20 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the park, which is located at 200 SE Depot Ave. Light breakfast items and Sweetwater Organic Coffee will be available. The celebration features live performances from local children’s band Bears and Lions, Star Center Children’s Theatre and Caring and Sharing Learning Center. Located throughout the park will be tents showcasing community groups, city departments and vendors who made Depot Park happen. Visitors are encouraged to visit the tents to see the different organizations which helped in different capacities to make Depot Park go from an idea to a reality.
There celebration also will have family and children’s activities, including a scavenger hunt, hula hooping contest, water balloon toss and prizes; sidewalk chalk art on the promenade; cornhole on the lawn; a photo booth; food trucks; photos and autographs with Bears and Lions and more fun for the whole family.
The Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) completed the restoration of the historic Depot Building in 2012 and, earlier this year, executed a lease agreement with the owners of The Top restaurant. The Depot Park Pop-a-Top General Store will also debut at the Grand Opening Celebration, selling food, drinks, sundries and more. On the west side of the park, construction is underway on the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention’s world-class facility, which is expected to be complete in mid-2017.
Depot Park is a collaborative project that has spanned over two decades of planning and investment by many partners. The Grand Opening Celebration gives the public the opportunity to meet those partners, and to simply experience and enjoy the park. This is a historic occasion; please join us in celebrating Gainesville’s new central park, Depot Park.
A high volume of people are expected at this event. Special event parking will be available downtown, as well as free shuttles to and from remote lots. For more information about getting to the park, Depot Park in general or to RSVP for the Grand Opening Celebration, please contact CRA Project Manager Tricia Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-393-8215.
The Gainesville CRA's goal is to build awesome things that make a difference in Gainesville, Florida. Bridging the gap between public and private investment, the agency awakens potential in underserved urban areas. Its toolkit includes: buckets of fresh paint, robust public infrastructure assistance, motivated community do-ers, economic incentives and ambitious creative vision.
The City of Gainesville established the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in 1981. 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.