Everyone in the Gainesville, Florida, area knows Butler Plaza, the open-air retail center at Archer Road and SW 34th Street. Currently home to more than 1 million sq. ft. of retail and restaurants, it’s where north central Florida residents, 100,000 daytime employees and 75,000 students at the University of Florida and other colleges have filled their basic needs and wants for decades. By 2018, however, they’ll be able to live there, as the 45-year-old complex adds Butler Town Center, a mixed-use lifestyle center with specialty retail, restaurants, residences and a hotel, to the eastern section of developer Butler Enterprises’ 267-acre property.
Butler Town Center is the vision of Deborah Butler, who worked alongside her father, Clark Butler, on the original Butler Plaza from the early 1980s. President of Butler Enterprises since 2008, Deborah Butler plans to double the complex to 2 million sq. ft. by adding the 750,000-sq.-ft. destination-oriented Butler North, opening in phases now, and the 550,000-sq.-ft. Butler Town Center.
“We’ve always wanted this project to be the core of Gainesville retail, and now we’re adding an entirely new neighborhood to the city,” Deborah Butler said. “We’ve reversed the concept of ‘live-work-play’ by building a mixed-use project last, after Butler Plaza and Butler North, which is nearly 90% leased.”
Butler Town Center will consist of 350,000 sq. ft. of retail and dining, including the first 365 by Whole Foods Market announced for the state of Florida, two residential towers, a parking garage and a 255-key hotel. An existing Regal Cinemas is being refurbished to blend with the lifestyle concept. The center will be configured as a pedestrian-oriented main street with ground-level retail and office space above. Residents will be able to walk along the boulevard, or arrive by car and utilize the new parking deck or surface spaces.
“This will be a uniquely urban experience, but with suburban access, given our location so close to Interstate 75 and the University of Florida at Gainesville,” said Tad Templeton, director of leasing. “We’re looking for new-to-market fashion and dining, and the latest prototypes from some of the most exciting retailers today to serve all of north central Florida.”
The project’s primary trade area of 20 miles has a population of some 252,000 people with an average household income of more than $62,000, and an extended total trade area of some 1.17 million people. Approximately 50,000 cars pass by Butler Town Center on Archer Road daily, with 39,000 vehicles passing on SW 34th Street and 72,500 vehicles on Interstate 75. More than 10,000 houses are located within a half-mile of the property, and residential development includes million-dollar homes. The University of Florida Health Shands Hospital is expanding, drawing even more affluent residents and daytime employees. Also bolstering the market are 50,000+ students at the University of Florida (with an estimated household income of $94,000), and more than 2 million people who visit area attractions, seasonal residents, University alumni and fans of Gator football athletic activities throughout the year.
“Gainesville’s residents, employees, students and visitors have long sought this combination of experience, convenience and assortment of retail in one location,” Deborah Butler said. “Butler Town Center will create a vibrant neighborhood that will serve them and draw from all of north central Florida. This has been a long-cherished family dream, and it’s a privilege to help make this dream come true.”