The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) staff is set to recommend that the Board approve a $6.6 million tax rebate for a downtown project amid controversy about the future of the Downtown District.
The Washington Square project was added to a list of potential projects even though the CRA Board had previously agreed not to pursue any more projects over $2 million. However, CRA staff argued that the project was in the pipeline and was overlooked.
Between 2009 and early 2011 the developer (Washington Square Partnership and then Fairmont Investment, LLC) submitted several proposals for consideration by CRA staff and/or the CRA Board, all focused around financial assistance to help with the cost of structured parking.
On February 7, 2011, CRA staff provided the CRA Board with a memo outlining the most recent Washington Square proposal which requested the CRA purchase the property for $5.5 million with public parking to be constructed at a future date when DT District funding would be sufficient to support construction of a parking garage.
A review of the initial proposals by the DT District’s Downtown Redevelopment Commission (DRC) acknowledged the development potential of the site but indicated the proposals were beyond the current financial capacity of the DT District.
Following several exploratory meetings with staff, on August 4, 2017, the developer submitted a project update outlining changes from the original office space development proposal into the current mixed-use development proposal that includes a hotel, 24 residential condominiums, offices, meeting space, retail/restaurant uses and structured parking. The update also included a request for $9.6 million from the CRA to assist in the development of the project.
On October 20, 2017, the developer submitted an updated financial assistance request with additional supporting documentation. The developer is requesting 100 percent reimbursement of the tax increment generated once the project is completed and added to the tax rolls. The request is for up to $9.6 million in tax increment reimbursement, although the developer recognizes the anticipated tax increment refund will be closer to $6.6 million over the remaining life of the DT District.
There is no request for up-front financial assistance. The August proposal included 24 residential condominiums but that portion of the development has been determined to be financial infeasible, and has been eliminated from the proposal.
The CRA staff writes that the Washington Square project is consistent with the Downtown Community Redevelopment Plan, which recommends redevelopment of vacant and/or underutilized lots within the downtown core, providing financial incentives to attract private investment in the downtown core and supports the development of mixed-use projects in the downtown core.
The CRA will take up the project on November 9th.
I will tell you that the huge project next to Cascades Park will really ruin the aesthetics of the park.
And what about traffic?
With Franklin narrowed down to two lanes there really isn’t the capacity to handle such a large development. Can you imagine the traffic when there is a concert or a festival at Cascades as well as people coming and going to the new development, residents and visitors?
A massive mess.
Sure I can imagine the traffic:
I’ve been on Gaines Street at 5pm.
What a disaster that’s been.
Whoever thought it was a good idea to narrow that to two lanes should be fired.
I had the misfortune to be involved in the Gaines Street project from the beginning when DOT wanted to 6 lane the street for projected traffic growth. DOT gave up and turned it over to the city. There was a beautiful plan in place for 4 lanes with a center turn/emergency vehicle lane. As time passed, membership of the steering committee dwindled due to meeting fatigue until the leadership devolved to business interests in the area. It became apparent that they did not care about traffic patterns, only self interests. FSU and FAMU were playing their own game and the landowners along Gaines street inflated the evaluation of their property outrageously. The city was buffeted by the conflicting interests and the “Bottleneck at Gaines” is the result. A classic case to too many cooks or designing a horse by committee. Plenty of blame to spread around.
As for me, I learned my lesson and have retired from active participation in politics. Now, I just bitch from the sidelines like everyone else.
Leadership in Tallahassee: We hear you. Let’s not even consider CRA projects over $2 million anymore…but first let us take a selfie in front of another gaudy downtown hotel we subsidized with your money!
Seriously, HOW did this get overlooked if it was such a big project that was going through the process for years? Was it because nobody was on the take for this one? Is this moving forward now because some folks are on the take? Not looking good either way.
Agreed Pienso Ello, the idea of Mayor Andy of an 18 hour active downtown was a politician wanting a larger position, without his own money using tax money to make up a story of something Tallahassee does not need to be. Yes, we could be an 18 hour 7 day a week town, or we could not. To be an 18 hour town we would need to spend a billion dollars of our money.. whats wrong with open space? Lets have the largest Park with 200 year oaks and open space downtown in Florida.. As you said, the other two buildings are vacant.. Brogan is broke
.. lets be what we are, oak tree, open space downtown, and stop all this..
There are already two buildings behind City Hall from previous efforts that have always been mostly vacant. I think the builder went bankrupt. This idea of people living and working downtown is a failure. No one wants to live in the center of crime, traffic, noise, etc.
I want a rebate on my taxes.
I don’t honk we should all get double rebates on our property taxes because we are the ones paying for all of this and they are benefiting from it. I see prison time coming ahead.
At the corner of Calhoun and Jefferson Streets, according to the artist’s rendering above the story.
They are totally out of control and a clear and present danger to the public.
It’s time to take them down.
Can you tell us where exactly this proposed development is to be located?
It looks like it’ll be at the intersection of Jefferson and Calhoun Street. Right behind the Leon County court house and just north of the Bank of America building on Calhoun.
This property is owned by the Ausley Law Firm. Do they represent the city or county?
Ausley has repped the Democrap for decades. So you’ll NEVER see anything critical about this project there. You won’t even see them disclose it in any article or mention of the project, which is a clear ethical violation on their part:
“We will avoid potential conflicts of interest and eliminate inappropriate influence on content.
We will be free of improper obligations to news sources, newsmakers and advertisers.
We will not blur the line between advertising and editorial content. We will provide appropriate disclosures, exercise transparency…”
Oh, the hypocrisy.