If your daily travels have taken you up and down North Monroe street over the last six months, you no doubt have noticed the activities taking place with the redevelopment of the Tallahassee Mall.
However, as of late, a new structure is rising up and is helping to redefine the skyline in that area of town. In the picture below you can see the outline of the amphitheater structure in the background.
The amphitheater, which will be covered and seat 6,800 people, will feature 15-20 national acts per year and will be used by local cultural arts organizations.
The amphitheater has removable seats which, in addition to traditional concerts, will allow the facility to host rodeo’s, a circus, and gala’s with full catering capabilities on-site.
In addition to the amphitheater, the redevelopment of Tallahassee Mall will provide other exciting opportunities.
The former Dillard’s building, located to the left in the picture above, will be renovated with new ground floor retail and the second floor will feature a magnet school and an entrepreneurship incubator.
The incubator program will identify and promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the fields of “brick & mortar” retail and culinary concepts. Select candidates will compete in a competition from which the best concepts may be granted membership in the program.
“Incubator Tenants” will enjoy access to facilities at negotiated lease rates and terms that provide them with the opportunity to nurture and grow their concepts in a real world environment.
The School of Arts and Sciences, a magnet school with a campus on Thomasville Road, will become operational on the second floor of the old Dillard ‘s building in January, 2016.
The redevelopment will also feature 300 apartment units and a site for a new hotel. The picture below was taken from the north side of the mall looking south. The hotel will be located to the north of the amphitheater.
The developer of the mall project is Blackwater Resources, LLC, a Birmingham, Alabama-based firm.
Alex Baker, who is heading up the project for Blackwater Resources, gave an update to the City Commission in June and could not hide his excitement for the project.
Before Blackwater could move forward, Mr. Baker said the group had to verify the location would be a regional draw and that some of the anchor tenants would commit to long term leases.
It did not take long to verify that the access to I-10 would provide the opportunity for a regional draw if the redevelopment provided new and innovative retail opportunities.
The second part of their due diligence was met when major anchors like AMC Theaters, Belk and Barnes & Noble committed to long term lease agreements.
For the project to be successful, Baker told the commission “we had to be bold, be quick and be decisive.”
The amphitheater was the bold part of the project and was modeled after a smaller project completed in 1989.
In an effort to help brick and mortar retailers deal with the challenges of the on-line age, Baker said the multi-purpose amphitheater will help keep traffic in front of the big box retailers and outdoor shops.
Mr. Baker also talked about how the excellent working relationship between the developer and the City permitting staff enabled local contractors to get their completed at a record pace.
Mr. Baker was quick to point out that the City partnership is limited to the permitting process. The financial resources for the project are 100% private and the City has no taxpayer funds at risk in the redevelopment of the mall.
During the presentation, Mr. Baker was confident in the future success of the project.
This confidence comes from the fact that the mall is 70% leased and there is retail interest from locations such as Atlanta, Destin, and Jacksonville.
In addition, two anchor stores have committed to major renovations. AMC Theaters will complete $9 million in renovations by the fall and Belk will invest $4 million in renovations that will be completed by October 1st.
Wow, a “covered” event center that the taxpayers did not pay for. This centre will amplify the poor decision to build – at taxpayer expense – an event center that is open to the elements with no parking.
It’s encouraging to see at least some semblance of economic growth and private-sector investment in Tallahassee. After watching local employment fall steadily and taxes rise (a seemingly addictive habit of Tallahassee government), there is some comfort in watching private sector efforts to economically revive a nearly moribund section of the city. While I applaud the project and it’s possibility as a regional draw and economic driver, it happens too rarely here.
If Tallahassee is ever to “grow up” and become an attractive location for large corporate business and high-salary jobs (other than law firms) that many envision, it will be the private sector that generates that evolution, not government. This country and great American cities are built by free-market, private sector ingenuity and innovation, not expansion of government oversight, bureaucracy, and employment.
Sooo, is this 6800 arena a Performing Arts Center, er, Centre? No cost to the citizens of Leon County? Magnet School?
Can anyone say “end run around the middle” Ms Miller??
Someone always pays!!
Nice to hear good news from the private sector. Also great that the city is not spending our tax money on another real estate project.Go private sector!!!!