On June 13th, 2107 the FBI served the City of Tallahassee with subpoenas seeking information related to Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) projects and City of Tallahassee activities. See the subpoenas here and here.
The subpoenas requested communications, documents, records, bids, applications, or proposals between a number of businesses/individuals and the City of Tallahassee and the CRA from April 2012 until the present.
The businesses listed in the subpoenas included Whitley Construction, IB Tallahassee, KaiserKane, Inc., Burnette Construction and Development, Inc., Hunter & Harp LLC, Hunter & Harp Holdings, LLC, Duval Partners, LLC, SheltonDean Holdings LLC, SheltonDean, Inc., Inkbridge LLC, Inkbridge Acquisitions LLC, Governance Inc., Governance Services LLC, Sunnyland Solar RE LLC, Cascade Holdings, LLC, and The Edison Restaurant.
The individuals included John T. (“JT”) Burnette, Melissa Oglesby, Kimberly Rivers, Catherine Baker, Adam Corey, Frank Whitley, Paige Carter-Smith, and Chad Kittrell.
Based on information in the subpoenas, listed below is information about development projects the FBI could be investigating.
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The Gateway Building, February 12, 2017
Tallahassee Reports recently reported that the $1.4 million in public funds provided to the owners of the Gateway Building, home to Walgreens until February 21st, will not be completely recovered through property taxes until approximately 2040.
This finding is based on financial information provided to TR by officials at the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).
To date, approximately $980, 576 has been given to the owner of the building. This amount includes $537,600 in a construction grant, $328,364 in vacancy guarantees, and $114,612 in scheduled refunds of property taxes for 2016 and 2017.
The CRA project was initiated by JT Burnette and involved a number of his businesses.
The Edison, August 18, 2013
In 2013 Tallahassee Reports published a story that revealed the City of Tallahassee was planning to spend $2.1 million in tax dollars to finance a Brew Pub restaurant to be located in the historic Old Electric building in Cascades Park.
In September 2011 the City Commission directed Staff to present options related to the reuse of the old electric building. A request for proposal was subsequently released to solicit interest for a public/private partnership to implement a brew pub type establishment at the site with the City retaining ownership and leasing the use of the facility.
Proof Brewing Company of Tallahassee was the highest ranked respondent and on October 24, 2012, the City Commission authorized the City Manager to negotiate an agreement with the Company for the renovation and lease. Original funding for this purpose was identified as $1,355,714 in tax dollars with the private partner contribution of $1,548,286.
Proof Brewing Company eventually backed out the project and the opportunity transferred to Adam Corey. Corey created Cascades Holdings, LLC and soon after the Edison restaurant was completed.
The Double Tree, October 28, 2014
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 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.