As luxury housing and chain stores replace mom and pop
shops on University Avenue, Gainesville finds its
culture at risk because of gentrification.

To outsiders, Gainesville, Florida, might appear as nothing more than an average college town in the middle of the state. But to the people who call it home, Gainesville is much more. It is a city rich with culture, history and individuality. However, some are now voicing concern that modern development has ignited a cultural carnage.

Residents say Gainesville is slowly transforming into a chain-ridden, overpriced city controlled by expansive corporations. With each advancement and termination of classic local establishments, the city is falling victim to the brunt of gentrification: Upscale student complexes are rising along with 24-hour CVS stores and shiny new businesses. Tattoo shops and classic eateries are falling by the wayside. Musical venues that produced the likes of Tom Petty back in the day are being forced out to make room for gentrified high-tech company headquarters.

This project honors and explores unique businesses that have made Gainesville what it is – and explores what it is becoming.

Gainesville during FEST
gentrification definition

The following local businesses have been impacted by development.
Click on each image to learn more.



Burrito Brothers

Addiction Tattoo

Maude's Classic Cafe

Dough Religion



The benefits of development: How the McGurns rejuvenated downtown Gainesville

Ken McGurn

Businessman, McGurn Management Company

Gainesville local Ken McGurn has worked on redevelopment projects since 1978. Ken and his wife Linda McGurn won the 1986 National Southeast Quadrant Redevelopment Project that included the Sun Center, Arlington Square Apartments, the Star Garage Legal Center, the Downtown Parking Garage and 14 blocks of the city streets.

The redevelopments of the McGurns helped maintain the fabric of the historical downtown area. Although there was opposition during project proposals and construction, Ken McGurn said that instead of giving up he did everything he could to help the area continue to develop. This included keeping tenants that could not pay rent instead of having vacancies and supporting businesses that were in debt. He said it was not instantly successful. "It takes the initial step and somebody to believe in it and make it happen."

Photo courtesy of The Gainesville Sun.

About the project

Culture in Crisis was created by students at the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.

Contributing writers and photographers

  • Natalie Rao
  • Max Chesnes
  • Gabrielle Calise
  • Drea Cornejo
  • Abigail Miller
  • Emma Green
  • Cecelia Lemus
  • Zachariah Chou

Web developer

  • Gabrielle Calise

Faculty Adviser

  • John Freeman, Professor