Articulate Featured Carousel March 2016 On The Cover

Celebration Pointe is Creating a Destination Experience

Written By: Chris Eversole

To shoppers, it will offer everything from a Bass Pro Shops Sportsman’s Center to a state-of-the-art luxury seating movie-going experience. In addition, the dining experience will feature a combination of local and national restaurants, bakeries and a wine bar.

Oak trees, grassy areas, soft outdoor seating and covered areas will add to the overall shopping, dining and hospitality experience.

For employees at companies such as Info Tech, a Gainesville-based software company, Celebration Pointe will provide a second-to-none experience featuring quiet spaces to relax on breaks and widespread Wi-Fi connectivity, not to mention never having to get into the car to head to lunch or work out.

Contained within what is called “Tech Park” will be a locally branded 137- room Hotel Indigo. A short stroll away is a conservation area at the western edge of the property that includes the Archer Braid Trail and ties into the Lake Kanapaha Conservation and Split Rock Conservation areas.

Events and live entertainment will regularly occur on “The Green,” a central space nestled between Tech Park and Hotel Indigo.

Those who make Celebration Pointe their home will have several options, including apartments above the Main Street retail, known as “Urban Flats.” City Walk, a more traditional apartment complex will be located at the southern end of Main Street. The Walk-up style apartment complex will have many amenities at their fingertips, not to mention the many dining, entertainment and shopping options.

“Celebration Pointe will feature trees, plants and building materials in keeping with the character of the area,” said lead architect Noel L. Cupkovic of Cupkovic Architecture LLC.

Eventually, enough trees will be planted to provide 50 percent shade in surface areas.

“Celebration Pointe will have more landscaping than any project I’ve done,” Cupkovic said. “People will want to shop, dine and relax in a natural setting that will feel authentic to Gainesville and North Central Florida.”


“Offering a full destination experience, Celebration Pointe will appeal to a broad demographic group, including Millennials and higher-income shoppers,” said David Hinkle, principal at The Outlet Resource Group, the project’s outlet retail leasing agent.

“As we travel all over the country and around the world, we’re seeing an evolution of outlet shopping that offers many more amenities than in years past,” he said. “Celebration Pointe is situated in an ideal location to be highly successful.”

People from Alachua County are hungry to be able to shop at some of their favorite stores without having to go to Orlando or Jacksonville. Add in to the mix the visitors to the Gainesville area, including football fans during home games.

Tourists traveling on I-75 are another bonus. As people get to know the popular brands we have, they will make a point to plan to stop at Celebration Pointe.

“The development will also meet a need for a gathering place”, Hinkle said.

“All over the country, people want a place to come together to shop, eat and go to the movies,” he said.


The wait will be over later this year, when a 100,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops Sportsman’s Center opens in Celebration Pointe.

The store will feature a 15,000-gallon aquarium along with a wide variety of hunting, fishing, camping, boating and other related outdoor gear.

“The company’s award-winning, megasized outdoor stores are known for combining retail with entertainment, conservation and outdoor education,” said Katie Mitchell, communications manager for Bass Pro Shops Group.

“The store will include a gift and nature center featuring a wide variety of outdoor-related items from lamps and dishes to bird feeders and furniture,” Mitchell added. “Showrooms will offer Tracker, Nitro, Sun Tracker, Tahoe, Grizzly and Mako boats built by Tracker Marine Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of fishing boats.”

“Our lodge-like exteriors and outdoor-themed interiors make our stores popular with customers,” she said. “We bring the feeling of the outdoors inside through massive log and rock work, large indoor aquariums, and water features stocked with native fish species as well as an extensive collection of museum-quality fish and wildlife mounts.”

Historic photos and exhibits will pay tribute to North Central Florida’s great outdoor heritage.


At Celebration Pointe, guests will wine, dine and recline in the area’s only luxury-seating theatre. Regal Entertainment Group’s state-of-the-art theatre will include king-size recliners.

Each recliner in the 10-screen cinema will have a control for multiple positions and feature padded footrests.

The luxury experience will continue in the lobby, where a full bar will be available with adjacent lounge seating, providing a place to chat and relax before and after the show.


Drs. Jim McClave and Tom Rothrock became interested in Celebration Pointe when they were looking for a new home for Info Tech, a Gainesville-based software and consulting company they founded in 1977.

They began by meeting with Svein Dyrkolbotn, managing member of Celebration Pointe Holdings LLC.

“Svein is someone I quickly felt I wanted to do business with,” McClave said. “He’s the real deal.”

Dyrkolbotn is pleased about Info Tech joining Celebration Pointe.

“It’s very exciting that they want their employees to enjoy the setting,” he said. “They’re very involved with the community and charities. That’s what this project is all about — giving back to the community.”


Celebration Pointe is the first transit-oriented development in Alachua County

The community features a strong connection to RTS, the Gainesville area transit system. This includes a dedicated bus lane into Celebration Pointe. The high densities centered on a “main street” create a work, live and play community reminiscent of historic downtowns. Celebration Pointe is building a $12 million multi-purpose bridge across Interstate 75 that will provide an alternative to traveling Archer Road to and from the community.

The developers are also building two significant entrances into the community from Archer Road: the four-lane landscaped boulevard main entrance road and a secondary service road that will start at the entrance to the Cracker Barrel and run past the Bass Pro boat inventory location and into the community.

“People coming from Haile Plantation and other points west of Celebration Pointe will be able to utilize the new road network to get to many locations east, providing an alternative to the Archer Road traffic going into town,” said Ralph Conti of Celebration Pointe Development Partners. “Celebration Pointe is not only creating the most unique environment Gainesville has ever seen, but in the process, we are solving traffic problems. This project cannot be replicated in this market. It’s an aggresive project for sure, but very sustainable for years to come. There simply is not another location in the area that comes close to being able to reproduce what we are delivering in terms of experience.”

Svein Dyrkolbotn, said that he originally contemplated building a residential community

When he approached Alachua County Government planners, they suggested the transit-oriented development as a way to reduce the traffic impact.

“Svein forged ahead with a preliminary plan,” Conti said. “When I first met him in early 2012, we discussed building upon his vision. The plan that he conceived was a great launching pad for the exciting plan that we have now. He is the mastermind behind this.”

The idea of creating a development that promoted public transportation appealed to Mable Barnes, who owned much of the land that is becoming Celebration Pointe.

Barnes, who died in 2010 at the age of 93, worked for attorney Joe Jenkins until her retirement in the late ’70s, and she invested in property at his urging.

“She used to take the bus to work every single day,” Dyrkolbotn said. “She actually was a user of the transit system.” Barnes’ support was vital to Celebration Pointe, said longtime Gainesville real estate attorney Chic Holden, who originally represented Barnes and now represents Dyrkolbotn.

“It’s pretty amazing that she put money away each payday to buy the land,” he said. “She shared Svein’s vision, and Celebration Pointe could not have been possible without her.”


• Both the University of Florida and University Health Care have a combined payroll of $1.8 billion a year, the same as Disney World’s 2013 payroll*

• Thirty-nine percent of Gainesville area shoppers spend around $900 annually on apparel, and 22 percent spend $1,049 or more.

• Stable employers including the University of Florida, Santa Fe College, Shands Hospital and North Florida Regional Medical Center make Gainesville less susceptible to economic downturns.

• Roughly 25 percent of Florida’s 100 million annual tourists drive through Gainesville.


• Millennials are the top group for apparel spending and outlet shopping nationally.

• Gainesville has 48 percent more millennials, including both students and young professionals, than the U.S. average.

• The University of Florida students are estimated to spend $790 annually in Gainesville, including $42 million on clothing.

• The 5 million annual visitors to the University of Florida spend $233 million annually in Gainesville.


• Gainesville serves 1.7 million commuters and shoppers from 11 surrounding counties.

• A “ retail leakage” occurs when shoppers have to travel significantly outside their home areas to reach their favorite retailers. Gainesville and areas within a 60-mile radius can be satisfied by Celebration Pointe’s convenient location on Interstate 75, which sees 114,000 cars a day.


Celebration Pointe will be an ideal location for professional and medical offices, said Nick Banks, managing director for Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group. There are numerous opportunities for office spaces of all sizes.

“This office space at Celebration Pointe should be especially attractive to millennials,” Banks said. “They’re looking for several things in making their choice about where they live and work”

These needs include walkability, transportation choices other than owning a vehicle, access to entertainment and a variety of restaurants to choose from.

“They also want lightning-fast Internet connection speeds at home and at work” Banks explained. “Celebration Pointe offers all of this and more as the only true Class-A office space in our region”

He also noted that he’s seeing a mix of local companies and ones that are new to the community.

“ It’s always exciting to attract business to our community, but we are also dealing with several local, established companies like Info Tech that recognize the benefits of a location within a robust project like Celebration Pointe” Banks said.


Ralph Conti and Svein Dyrkolbotn are the co-managing members of Celebration Pointe Development Partners.

A real estate industry veteran of over 35 years, Ralph Conti leads Atlanta-based RaCo Real Estate LLC, a real estate consulting and development firm.

Prior to forming RaCo in 2009, Ralph served as executive vice president of development for Kimco Realty Corporation (NYSE: KIM), where he was responsible for new development and joint venture relationships in the Southeast.

In addition to Kimco, Ralph has also held senior executive level positions with North American Properties-Atlanta, Developers Diversified Realty Corp (NYSE: DDR), Glimcher Realty Trust (NYSE: WPG) and Homart Community Centers.

“Ralph is a well-respected industry veteran and his work ethic is second to none,” Dyrkolbotn said. “I’m thrilled to have him be part of the Celebration Pointe team”

Svein Dyrkolbotn, who is also principal of Gainesville-based Viking Companies, has over 15 years of development experience. He has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida and is a licensed general contractor. He has developed over 2,000 multi-family residential units in communities throughout the Southeast.

Born in Bergen, Norway, Svein was a member of the Norwegian National Basketball Team before moving to Florida in 1990 as a high school exchange student.

The 6-foot 8-inch Dyrkolbotn, known as “The Norwegian Collegian” played for the University of Florida basketball team that made the Gators’ first appearance in the Final Four in 1994.

Gainesville real estate attorney Chic Holden applauded Dyrkolbotn for his collaborative style and perseverance.

“Svein is a person who is not only interested in doing something he will benefit from, but he also wants to create a real jewel for the community” Holden said.



Senior Writer CHRIS EVERSOLE has been a keen observer of business, government and culture in the Greater Gainesville Area while living here over the past two decades. His experience includes work with the University of Florida and Alachua County Government. He also has been a journalist and public relations professional in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota- Bradenton areas, as well as in Michigan, Ohio and New York.

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