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BREAKING, EXCLUSIVE: Doubletree Hotel Gets $883,000 in CRA Funds

Posted on October 28, 2014

BREAKING, EXCLUSIVE: Doubletree Hotel Gets $883,000 in CRA Funds

On October 23, 2014, the Leon County Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) voted to give the new owner of the downtown Double Tree Hotel $883,000 in tax dollars to help with the hotel renovation.

The CRA is comprised of nine members, including the five City of Tallahassee Commissioners along with four of the seven Leon County Commissioners, selected by the Leon County Commission.

According to the City’s website, the CRA projects must serve a public purpose and must address concerns raised in the adopted redevelopment plans for each area.

The Community Redevelopment Act (Act), adopted in 1969, is intended to help communities revitalize downtowns, reserve historic structures, and otherwise enhance the designated CRA district.

According to Florida statutes, in order to establish a CRA, the local government legislative body must adopt a resolution finding that the designated area is a “slum” or “blighted,” or it contains a shortage of affordable housing, and that the rehabilitation or redevelopment of the area is “necessary” in the interest of the public’s “health, safety, morals or welfare.”

The owner of the Doubletree, John Burnette, was the top political donor to local campaigns during the 2014 cycle with approximately $24,000 in donations through approximately 20 different businesses.

Based on the agenda provided by CRA staff, IB Tallahassee, LLC, owner of the Doubletree hotel submitted a request for up to $682,000 in CRA grant funds for assistance with the installation of sidewalk/streetscape improvements on the east side of South Adams Street between Park and College Avenues (the Project).

As proposed, installation of the project would be funded by the Doubletree owner and the CRA funds would be provided as a reimbursement to the owner over 10 years at 5.0 percent annual interest.  The hotel is located within the Downtown District (DD) Community Redevelopment Area and is consistent with the Downtown Community Redevelopment Plan.

The proposed design includes expanding the sidewalk on the northwest corner of the hotel into metered parking spaces, adding outdoor seating under two marbled pergolas (arbor), installing a vehicle pull-in/drop-off for restaurant guests, and the creation of a pedestrian plaza along the existing sidewalk using granite pavers.

The proposed project has been reviewed by CRA and City staffs, including representatives of Public Works and the Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Department/Design Works.  A major portion of the CRA/City review has focused on ensuring the sidewalk/streetscape design proposed by the Applicant can also be continued along Adams Street from City Hall north to Tennessee Street, and eventually north to the Governor’s mansion and the Grove.

If the CRA Board approves the project funding request, the owner will work with City and CRA staff to refine the concept details, if needed, to ensure they are consistent with the overall Adams Street vision.

Tallahassee Reports has contacted the CRA staff to determine who voted for and against the project. The only no vote that has been verified by Tallahassee Reports was cast by Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor.

 

16 Responses to BREAKING, EXCLUSIVE: Doubletree Hotel Gets $883,000 in CRA Funds

  1. Chuck Reply

    October 28, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Bill Proctor finally gets one right.

  2. brad Reply

    October 28, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I know a few much more blighted areas that need to be addressed before this! What a gross waste of tax payer money and If I had enough of it I would find a good lawyer. This area does not qualify for these tax dollars and those that voted for it should be ashamed.

  3. John Riverside Reply

    October 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I have a better idea; let the Doubletree pay for this.

    • Jan Reply

      October 28, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      Too ethical, they shy away from such recommendations.

  4. Dr. Edward Holifield

    Dr. Edward Holifield Reply

    October 28, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Corrupt!

    • Erwin Jackson, PhD. Reply

      October 28, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      You are absolutely correct. Unfortunately the corruption continues and those in power continue to help their friends. If anyone needed another reason to vote for an independent ethics officer – here it is! A yes vote for an independent ethics officer will help stop corruption in city hall.

  5. Hope Reply

    October 28, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Pay to play and Mum’s the Word over at the Mullet Wrapper.

  6. Alan Byrd Reply

    October 28, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Damn good reason to vote NO to continue the extra penny on local sales tax. Its time to send a message!

  7. bob fulford Reply

    October 28, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Do I read this correctly?

    The City GIVES the trickster several hundred thousand dollars but because the gift will be doled out over several years the CITY will also give the trickster 5% interest on the un-given part. !!??

    There’s a considerable difference in magnitude but I think when the City gave Andy Weiss the right to extend his restaurant onto the city sidewalk on his south side for $50.00 for fifty years that was a better deal. Unethical still, but a better deal.

  8. Jan Reply

    October 28, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Yes, we GIVE them money PLUS interest! Hmmmm…..did they vote on this before we voted on the Ethics Official they requested a study on, turned down, yet we got as a result of a petition drive, and they tried to block in court and FAILED?!
    Well we are not all a bunch of dolts and I am not voting for the penny increase as long as these smarmy (excuse my gutter talk) people remain in office!

  9. Hope Reply

    November 1, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I believe it is noteworthy that County Commissioner Kristin Dozier voted “FOR” a contract bid award to Mad Dog Construction – who was awarded – the contract to do the renovation work, at the Doubletree, paid with CRA funds.

    Dozier’s father is 1/3 owner of Mad Dog Construction and people are questioning why she did not declare a conflict of interest and recuse herself from this vote.

    http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/Tallahassee-Taxpayers-Pay-For-Doubletree-Hotel-Expansion-280846332.html

  10. Chandler Jones Reply

    November 1, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Deplorable. This is more than political manipulation; smells of extreme political favoritism and abusive interpretation of any application of logic or common sense. Can you see any “blight” in that area – aside from mold at City Hall? The downtown parking quotient is being ignored AGAIN and the real needs for neighborhood revitalization and renewal are being suberted by a cabal of private power brokers for the personal gains of a few. The Citizens of Tallahassee lose -AGAIN.

  11. BEC Reply

    November 2, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    This is where Gillum held his party on election night…very interesting.

    • Hope Reply

      November 4, 2014 at 7:15 am

      Quid pro quo?

  12. Dannitte H. Mays Reply

    November 12, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    1) When was the last time the Hotel produced an annual Net Operating Income of $800,000+ or even several years?

    2)How much is the Hotel’s tax bill per year?

    • JD Reply

      June 30, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      Have you seen these renovations thus far? It’s the most garish display of silly discordant excess imaginable. It looks like it’s been decorated by a four-year old girl, with unlimited funds. Who’s watching over this rampant mess?

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