At Wednesday’s City Commission meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to adopt Ordinance 21-O-04AA. The ordinance, which amends the Tallahassee Land Development Code (TLDC), will change the definition of “Dwelling Unit” to include obsolete hotels and motels converted into residential units.
The new ordinance states, “When applied to the conversion of a previously existing hotel or motel into one-bedroom studios/efficiency apartments, three such one-bedroom studio/efficiency apartments are the equivalent of one residential dwelling unit.”
According to the meeting agenda, in September 2020, the City was approached by two developers regarding converting obsolete hotels into one-bedroom units to re-use the properties.
“City staff identifies a potential opportunity for providing additional housing inventory, particularly as it applies to ‘missing middle’ housing (which is a spectrum of housing between large lot single-family housing on one end and high-rise, high density units on the other end usually lacking in many communities as a housing type) and providing more price-attainable housing in high activity areas of the City,” staff reports.
Notably, the properties are not intended to be turned into homeless shelters — rather, they are expected to be apartments and condos for sale at market rate.
Commissioner Jeremy Matlow expressed that the language of the agenda item caused confusion.
“I think this land code change does a good thing, but I don’t want to confuse it with our effort to find housing and transitional housing for the homeless population,” Matlow said. “I just don’t want us to go down a path thinking we’re doing one thing when we’re doing something totally different. I think this is a great way to build density within our urban core and reuse buildings that aren’t serving their best purpose, but I just wanted to make sure we have clarity.”
The properties planned to be converted are University Inn, Days Inn, Quality Inn, Mainstay and Rodeway. Converted residences could be used for student housing and other purposes.
According to the meeting agenda, staff plans to monitor the conversions over the next two years and further refine the land development code.