The small city of Gainesville is predominately resided by college students; mostly all businesses, restaurants, nightlife scene and "things-to-do-in-Gainesville" are all geared toward providing services to this niche group or 18- to 24-year-olds. There's something new being built almost every month—eateries, apartment buildings, apparel stores, smoke shops, bars and clubs, Gator-swag stores...you name it. While it's great that we (college students) are blessed to have an endless array of places to eat and spots to hang out at, it's apparent that this city has a huge gentrification problem.
Why is it a problem? Well for starters, once you cross over to the eastern side of Waldo Road, you'll see a completely different world—one where there's poor neighborhoods, lack of resources and food insecurity issues. Why gentrify a city when there's an obvious problem with poverty? We should be working towards getting homeless people off the streets and providing higher wages to low-income earners. Instead of building places for this niche group of college students, the city should put its efforts into creating a prosperous community for all—co-op grocery stores, more facilities and aid for the homeless, employment services, etc.
Sadly, new developments in Gainesville has brought upon the slow extinction of mom and pop shops and iconic places of this town. Just recently, it was announced that The Swamp restaurant, along with the entire strip of shops and bars at mid-town, are going to get replaced with apartment buildings. The Swamp is legitimately one of the most iconic bars in Gainesville. Fondly named after the geographic location of UF, The Swamp has been around for over 25 years, and I hope it sticks around for the following years to come. Leonardo's Pizza By The Slice was, and might still be, on the verge of getting sold and replaced by some UF-owned building. Other places, such as 101 Cantina, The Coop, Burrito Brothers Taco Co., etc., have already been replaced by other franchise-based eateries. I find it absolutely infuriating and absurd that new apartment buildings or commercialized places are being made when existing projects haven't even been completed yet.
Apart from the whole idea of turning bustling mid-town into housing units, the fact that most night-life activities, such as bars and clubs, are gravitating toward downtown means there are more safety concerns for night-lifers. Once you go past a certain radius outside of UF, it's not safe for college students to roam around, especially at night when plastered drunk. It's bad enough that students have been getting attacked and stalked by Uber and Lyft drivers... the people that are supposed to safely drive these students home after being intoxicated. This brings me to say that crime rates could potentially spike due to an influx of students going downtown and drinking.
It's not bad that a city wants to grow and develop, but it's wrong to do so when the other half of the town is blatantly suffering. Also, if developers are doing this to attract college students, it's just plain wrong to get rid of iconic places and bars that have been around for generations. This is what makes Gainesville the town it is. This is what makes UF students' time here memorable. It would almost be a sin to do away with places that are a part of this town's culture and history. It saddens me that the future generations of students to come won't get to experience what I did.