GAINESVILLE, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Developers of a planned mixed-use project to be constructed near the University of Florida said they intend to include a popular icon at the site.
There were stirrings around Gainesville that The Swamp Restaurant's days were numbered, to make way for a new landmark property, located the corner of NW 17th Street and W. University Avenue in the center of Midtown Gainesville.
In an interview with FOX 35 last month, Ryan Orodesky, who manages The Swamp, said there were plans in place to build student housing at the location. However, in a news release sent to FOX 35 on Wednesday, developers said they wanted to "correct the misperception that The Swamp Restaurant is going away."
“As a [Florida] Gator, I appreciate the passion, history, and level of support surrounding this popular establishment and we are committed to protecting its legacy,” said Brian Detri, Director of Construction Management of 908 Group.
Detri added that the development team, which includes four UF alumni, has always envisioned keeping The Swamp Restaurant in the project.
“908 Group is dedicated to preserving community culture, tradition, and businesses in each market that we invest in. The Midtown corridor along West University Avenue will be no exception. We will continue working with The Swamp’s owner and the community to make our development an asset for the University of Florida and the City of Gainesville,” Detri said.
The two-story eatery, which opened in 1994 after the original structure was lost to a fire, is surrounded by a white picket fence and has a shaded patio, covered with the trees. It's a nice place to hang out during the week, students say, and just two blocks down from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, it's "the place to be" on game day.
“It will continue to be a great Gator experience on the same site under the same management,” said Ronald DeFilippo, owner of The Swamp.
According to the developers, "the new venue will incorporate the best of the current restaurant’s design, while adding space and upgrading the facilities." The new Swamp will include an outdoor patio and "historical elements from the original Swamp."
Word of the possible closing of The Swamp received all kinds of attention online. A #SaveTheSwamp petition on Change.org was launched as a response. A Central Florida lawmaker even took to Twitter, proposing legislation to save The Swamp.
“We want the Swamp Restaurant to continue to be the place for UF students to meet and make memories, for alumni to return to campus and reconnect on game days with old friends and for all UF fans to enjoy the atmosphere that embodies the Gator Nation,” Detri added.