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Developer, Campaign Donor, Prevail Over All Saints District Activism Before City Vote

Posted on November 29, 2015

Developer, Campaign Donor, Prevail Over All Saints District Activism Before City Vote

In the end, the All Saints District neighborhood received kind words from City Commissioners about their neighborhood activism, but ultimately it appears the outcome was decided before the vote.

The group had gathered more than 1,500 signatures in a grass roots effort to stop a development proposal for a city-owned vacant lot off of Gaines Street they claimed would dilute the artsy character of the area and hurt homegrown businesses.

You can read an earlier report about the issue here.

Instead, the City Commission voted last week 5-0 to allow a developer to proceed with an agreement that will put a chain hotel, rumored to be an Hampton Inn, at the corner of Gaines Street and Railroad Avenue. A hotel that will take up parking that many say will hurt their businesses. (Ironically, the City Commission voted not to allow a developer to build a Hampton Inn at the corner of Tennessee and Monroe back in 2013.)

Over 20 people chose to speak against the project and more showed up to the meeting.

The conflict arose when members of the All Saints District got the feeling the project was fast tracked and they were not involved in the decision making process even though the city had previously promised to keep them in the loop.

This concern seemed to be validated at the meeting when city staff told the City Commissioners that any vote against the development could open up the City to a legal challenge by the developer.

How did this happen?

The City Commission had previously voted to sell the property to the developer, but the contract included a provision for the City to retain approval of the final property use.

However, it appears City staff, at the request of the developer, changed the property use from retail to hotel without seeking approval from the City Commission.

Therefore, a vote to stop the development based on property use would be in conflict with the agreement between the developer and the City  and could lead to legal action.

What was not reported by the local media were the ties that the developer, Summit Holdings XV (Summit Group) and their affiliated companies have with the elected officials.

Campaign records show that, within the last four years, these companies have made campaign donations to four of the five City Commissioners, including Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Recently, TR has reported about a vote by the CRA that awarded a no-bid contract to a developer that had made campaign donations to CRA members. That report can be read here.

9 Responses to Developer, Campaign Donor, Prevail Over All Saints District Activism Before City Vote

  1. bob fulford Reply

    November 29, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    What would prevent the All Saints citizens from suing the City and the developer. I can understand that the City would rather leave the citizens in the lurch rather than cross the developer but the citizens have no such restraint.

    • Franklin Thompson Reply

      November 30, 2015 at 9:14 am

      Money.

  2. Curtis

    Curtis Reply

    November 29, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    It’s a shame Tallahassee doesn’t have a qualified ethics officer who could investigate something like this.

    • Hope Reply

      December 2, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Let’s give it a chance and let the process proceed. Some community patience and support would not hurt either.

  3. Jane Reply

    November 29, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    …City staff changed the use from retail to hotel without seeking approval? Was the employee fired? Was this a zoning change that required City Commission approval? I can’t even change my water heater without Code Enforcement driving by to see if it was gas or electric. Who is this employee? Maybe I can get some good ‘ole boy, palm greased progress (wink, wink).

  4. Jane Reply

    November 30, 2015 at 12:10 am

    It almost makes me wonder if the folks down at City Hall are being played by “the business”. Bait and switch. Tell them one thing when the intention is to do the opposite all along. Are they really that gullible? I just want to put this out there for COT…..Hampton Inn is in the HOTEL business, not the RETAIL business (unless they are selling personal care items from behind the front desk). It reminds me of when Disney World wanted to purchase land around the park, but didn’t want to run up the price of the land, so they sent out agents to purchase the land on their behalf. COT got suckered, just like the people around Disney. As PT Barnum said….there’s one born every minute.

  5. Jane Reply

    November 30, 2015 at 12:29 am

    Tell the All Saints folk to fear not! You can’t get a damn thing through COT environmental permitting. And if it does get through, they should call the EPA, no one should be allowed to build in the swampy wetlands around that part of town. Whoops, I forgot about college town. Never mind, tell the All Saints folks to buy flood insurance for all the storm water that’s gonna get dumped on ’em.

    • Hope Reply

      December 2, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Actually this will probably mitigate and correct current problems so an improvement all the way around.

  6. John Reply

    November 30, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    As a new subscriber to TR, I have to ask to be sure, that the readers of TR are not in the dark as to who the “developer” is that is being referenced. He is the puppeteer and the mayor and commissioners are his marionettes.

    The citizens of All Saints that want the whole scoop need to start connecting the dots. They could have has 150,000 signatures and they’d still received the obligatory “good work citizen of Tallahassee” but we’re moving forward with the developers plan.

    This deal and subsequently several others are done without regard to public opinion or input. Check out our fabulous new homeless shelter location on Pensacola Street.

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