Florida

Popular Gator Nation bar The Swamp faces wrecking ball. Lawmaker joins fight to save it

The Swamp Restaurant, the popular Gainesville hangout for University of Florida students, may soon be history.
The Swamp Restaurant, the popular Gainesville hangout for University of Florida students, may soon be history. The Independent Florida Alligator

Don’t go into mourning just yet.

But The Swamp Restaurant, the wildly popular Gainesville hangout for University of Florida students, may soon be history.

What’s endangering the 25-year-old storied venue? Progress.

According to WUFT News, 908 Group real estate developers announced plans Tuesday to build a residential and retail complex on the same parcel of land where The Swamp resides, on University Avenue across from the Ben Hill Griffin football stadium.

The Swamp’s owner Ron DeFilippo told campus newspaper The AIligator that he’s heard rumors of demolition projects for years but never seen such a concrete plan as this.

People are not pleased, and are taking action.

UF linebacker Daniel Weldon started a Change.org petition to save the veritable institution, originally built in 1914 as a University of Florida professor’s home, according to its website.

More than 22,000 people have already signed.

“Gainesville will lose its college town feel,” reads the petition. “Swamp is a student and alumni favorite and this would greatly impact the Gator community. Let’s show that we do not support this and want to keep this iconic place!”

A lawmaker, who also happens to be a UF alum, is also working to save The Swamp: Florida House Rep. Anthony Sabatini has proposed an amendment to House Bill 7103, to make the bar a Florida Heritage Landmark.

“I don’t think you realize just how big the Gator Nation is,” Sabatini, a Howey-in-the-Hills Republican, told the Alligator. “It’s gigantic. People are livid. They’re very, very angry.”

On Thursday, The Swamp posted a picture of the building on Instagram trying to assuage patrons in distress.

“Thankful for all the love and support we have been getting through social media the past couple days,” read the caption. “As of right now, the bartenders are still making drinks, chef is still runnin the kitchen, and this account ain’t going anywhere.”

The post received almost 2,000 likes with various commenters using the hashtag #savetheswamp.

“This can’t happen.”

“My home away from home.”

“Don’t let it go!”

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The popular bar and restaurant The Swamp is considered a University of Florida institution. It's seen here on a rainy Friday morning. Courtesy of Andrew Sanchez

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