County Commission Approves $1.8 Million in Tourist Tax Monies for TLH Arts

County Commission Approves $1.8 Million in Tourist Tax Monies for TLH Arts

During the Leon County Commission meeting Tuesday evening, the Board unanimously approved the award of $1.8 million to TLH Arts, Inc. to support the “Performance and Rehearsal Space” project to be constructed in the Railroad Square Arts District.  The funds will be distributed through the tArts, Culture, and Heritage Grant Program (ACHG).

The ACHG is a $3 million grant created by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in May 2017 to award funding for cultural projects, programs, and associated expenses. The funds are drawn from the Tourist Development Tax (TDT) which were previously dedicated to the performing arts center project. Florida Statues requires proposed venues to be publicly owned in order to use the TDT funds.

The complete renovation of the site is expected to be $3.2 million, requiring TLH Arts, Inc. to raise the remaining $1.4 million. Additionally, the CRA recommends that the City take ownership of the donated venue so that the property is publicly owned so that the TDT funds may be utilized. The City Commission is expected to discuss the issue at the July 7th meeting. 

The TLH Arts, Inc. “Performance and Rehearsal Space” project expects to raise the additional funds needed within the next nine months and should complete the renovation in roughly two years. 

TLH Arts, Inc. wants to build a “multi-purpose assembly and performance venue” on property donated in Railroad Square Arts District. The arts complex is will host cultural events, festivals, and concerts.

The facility will include a main studio/dressing rooms, a green room, restrooms, a lobby with space for food and goods vendors, and a 300+ seat theatre. Some of the features will include a “commercial movie projection and recording/audio-visual capabilities.” In addition, the neighboring building will be used as an incubator and co-working space to assist local artists in pursuit of art-related business ventures.

TLH Arts Site Plan

6 Responses to "County Commission Approves $1.8 Million in Tourist Tax Monies for TLH Arts"

  1. Tell me why the Civic Center can’t also be used as a Performing Arts Center like it has before? Or Ruby Diamond Theater?

  2. So, the ACHG is a $3 million grant created by the CRA for funding for cultural projects, programs, and associated expenses and here you are giving Two Thirds of it away to ONE Project? PLUS, I have been there a few times and there is NO place to park 100 Cars and your going to need space for at least 250 Cars, possibly a lot more.

  3. The Performing Arts Center Is a ‘Done Deal’ without even a Vote of the P…

    Jun 30, 2011 at 1:53 AM
    In a message dated 7/2/2010 9:46:23 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time writes:
    ACTION REQUESTED ON: July 7, 2010
    SUBJECT/TITLE: Discussion of Request to Amend the Real Estate Option Agreement with Artspace Inc. and the Council On Culture and Arts for City Parcels on Railroad Avenue
    TARGET ISSUE: Economic Development

    On October 7, 2008, the City Commission approved a real estate option agreement with Artspace Inc. and the Council On Culture and Arts (COCA) to facilitate the “Arts Exchange Project “ which consists of the development of a 75,000 square foot “arts incubator” and 50 live/work affordable housing units. The agreement covers four acres of City-owned property on Railroad Avenue immediately north of the Amtrak Station. The agreement provides that the City will either donate or provide the developers with a 50-year low cost lease on the property if they can demonstrate they have the funding and design approvals to construct the proposed improvements. The agreement expires on September 30, 2010.

    Artspace Inc. has proposed to finance the affordable housing units using low-income housing tax credits. Their funding schedule assumed that they would be able to apply for these tax credits in early 2010. The distribution of low-income housing tax credits in Florida is administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC). Legal challenges to the previous tax credit application, has delayed the 2011 low-income tax credit application cycle until December 2010. Because of this delay, Artspace and COCA have requested an amendment to the Option Agreement to extend the term of the agreement to August 31, 2011 (Attachment 1).


    Option 1: Authorize the City Manager to execute an amendment to the Option Agreement to extend the term of the agreement to August 31, 2011 and to add additional performance requirements during the agreement extension period.


    The proposed action does not require an outlay of City funds. However, the property that is the subject of the option agreement has an estimated value of $1,765,000. The Office of Budget and Policy has reviewed this agenda item and concurs that it meets budget guidelines.

    Thomas H. Lewis, Director, Economic and Community Development

    Anita Favors Thompson, City Manager

    For information, please contact: Michael Parker, 850-891-6457


    On October 7, 2008, the City Commission approved a real estate option agreement with Artsplace Inc and COCA to provide four acres of City property to support the “Arts Exchange” Project (Attachment 2). The project consists of two components: a 50-unit affordable live/work residential development focused on artists, and a 75,000 square-foot Arts Incubator to provide rehearsal and commercial space to support cultural organizations. The total estimated cost of both components is $30,623,501.

    The 50-unit residential component will consist of: 5 efficiencies, 28 one-bedroom units, 12 two- bedroom units and 5 three-bedroom units. The size of the units and rental rates will vary from 700 square feet and an average monthly rental rate of $307 for the efficiencies, to 1,600 square feet and an average monthly rental rate of $912 for the three-bedroom units. The rental rates will target low-income tenants at the 35% to 60% of local area median income.

    The Arts Incubator facility will be approximately 75,000 square feet and will include rehearsal space, a black box theatre, a workshop for set construction, classrooms, and office space for non-profit organizations.

    The option agreement has a term of two years. There are performance requirements at six months, 15 months and at the end of the option term. These requirements are designed to demonstrate that Artspace and COCA have the necessary plans and financing to successfully develop and operate the proposed improvements. If the conditions of the option agreement are met, then the City would be obligated to provide the property for the development through a direct donation or a long-term lease. If the option agreement expires and the agreement conditions have not been met, the property is unencumbered and available for other project considerations.

    The terms of the option agreement have been complied with to date (Attachment 3). However, the agreement requirement is that Artspace and COCA must demonstrate that they have the financing and development approvals in place to start construction on the improvements within 120 days of taking possession of the City property. This condition must be met before the agreement expires on September 30, 2010.

    The option agreement required that Artspace and COCA submit a detailed budget indicating the sources of funding to develop and operate the two project components (Arts Incubator and residential units). The agreement also requires that both parties provide updates regarding their success in securing the funding identified in their budgets.

    The Arts Incubator component, which is being administered by COCA, proposes to use public and private fundraising as their primary financing source. Based on their most recent update, they have raised a total of $659,575 (Attachment 4). COCA has a number of foundation grant applications and other funding raising initiatives underway. The total estimated cost for the Arts Incubator component is $16,987,326.

    The residential component of the project, which is administered by Artspace Inc., proposes to use a mixture of public and private financing to construct the 50 units of live/work affordable housing. A central component of their financing plan is to secure Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to fund a total of $7,699,230 of their estimated $13,636,175 in project costs.

    Artspace Inc. submitted an application for LIHTC in 2009, however, their application was unsuccessful (Attachment 5). Artspace Inc. believes they can present a much stronger funding application in the up coming LIHTC funding cycle because the project design and plans have advanced since their prior application. The funding schedule, which they presented as part of the option agreement, assumes they will secure their tax credit funding in 2010.

    Traditionally, the state LIHTC annual funding application cycle (Universal Application Cycle) takes place in the first quarter of the year. However, the 2011 Universal Application Cycle has been postponed to December of 2010. Based on the current funding cycle, LIHTC funding awards will not be made until August of 2011.

    Artspace Inc. and COCA have requested an amendment to the current option agreement to extend the expiration date to August 31, 2011 (Attachment 1). This extension is to allow Artspace to seek LIHTC funding in the state 2011 Universal Application Cycle. If the extension is not approved, Artspace and COCA will not be able to meet the property acquisition terms requiring that they demonstrate by September 30, 2010 that they have funding to construct the improvements.

    Staff is recommending approval of the extension request. However, the recommended agreement amendment will also include additional performance milestones to ensure that both Artspace and COCA are continuing to make progress toward the funding and design of the project. Specifically, Artspace Inc. would be obligated to prepare and submit an application for LIHTC funding as part of the 2011 state funding cycle. The recommended amendment will extend the term of the option agreement for 11 months and will include required reports on the project status on January 31, 2011 and June 1, 2011. The parties will be required to demonstrate that they have sufficient funding and plan approvals in place to complete the projects and can begin construction within 120 days after the transfer of the property to their control.




    Option 1: Authorize the City Manager to execute an amendment to the Option Agreement to extend the term of the agreement to August 31, 2011 and to add additional performance requirements during the agreement extension period.

    · Will allow Artspace Inc. additional time to secure the financing necessary for the residential component of the Arts Exchange Project, increasing the potential that the project will be successful.
    · The Arts Exchange Project will support the community’s redevelopment goals for Gaines Street.
    · The Arts Exchange Project will implement one of the recommendations of the adopted Cultural Plan.
    · The Arts Exchange Project will further the City’s affordable housing goals.

    · Will restrict the use of the City-owned property for an additional 11 months, making it unavailable for other redevelopment projects.
    · If the property is transferred for the Arts Exchange Project, the City will not be able sell or lease the property at a market rate.

    Option 2: Deny the requested amendment to the Option Agreement.

    · If Artspace Inc. and COCA are not able to meet the Option Agreement requirements, the City will be free to market the property for other redevelopment projects.
    · If the subject property is not transferred for the Arts Exchange Project the City could sell or lease the property at a market rate.

    · If the amendment is not approved, Artspace Inc. and COCA will not be able to meet the conditions for transfer of the property and the Arts Exchange Project will not take place.

    Option 3: Provide alternative direction to staff.


    Attachment 1: Request for Extension of Option Agreement
    Attachment 2: Current Option Agreement
    Attachment 3: Milestone #2 Project Progress Report
    Attachment 4: Letter on Current Project Funding Status
    Attachment 5: Letter on LIHTC application status
    Attachment 6: 2011 Tax Credit Cycle Proposed Rule Time Line
    Attachment 7: Notice indicating FHFC not holding a 2010 Universal Application Cycle

    In a message dated 7/2/2010 11:38:39 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
    Hehe. Interesting e-mail exchange. I’m actually looking into the whole performing-arts center project and would like to talk to you about it. Would you want to be quoted in the newspaper by any chance ???

    Good to see you yesterday!

    Jeff Burlew
    Senior government editor
    Tallahassee Democrat
    (850) 599-2180

    Sent: Monday, June 28, 2010 2:21 PM
    To: Waters, TaMaryn
    Cc: Burlew, Jeff
    Subject: The Performing Arts Center Is a ‘Done Deal’ without even a Vote of the Public..

    The County/City Commission Voted To sell the Performing Arts Center to US One Small bite at a time, First it was the one cent bed tax to be used for the Performing Arts .NOW, it’s to buy The Property from the City then they will be another one cent Tax to do planning etc. after they have the property then a grant(Taxes) from the city or county to do some drawings and engineering then a property tax to just get started on the ground work .then another 175 million( bond) taxes to build the building then more taxes to pay to furnish it and another to run it forever and on and on and on………You Do Know ,Don’t You!. ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————– Nobody’s ever talked about the city paying for the performing-arts center, and Arts on Gaines has been estimated at $5 million, most of which would come from state housing tax credits. So far the only money spent on any of this stuff has been a few hundred thousand dollars from the bed tax money, which the city and county agreed to spend on the PAC several years ago. I’m not saying we shouldn’t question these art proposals, but I have no idea where you’re getting the idea that the city is even thinking of spending even one hundredth of what you’re talking about.

    City to spend $113 million on performing-arts center? That would be quite the headline – if it had anything remotely to do with reality.

    Now the “green” stuff, yes, that’s real money the city is actually spending and we’ll be looking more closely at that shortly…


    _ Julian

    Sent: Sunday, June 15, 2008 6:50 PM
    To: Pecquet, Julian J.
    Subject: Budget Cuts
    Have you not noticed that something strange is going on when the City Commissioners are Talking about selling city property (Hilaman) on one hand to make up a budget shortfall in a 900 Million budget but on the other hand talk about a 33 Million Gaines street Arts Project and A 113 Million Performing Arts Center, etc.etc.. etc.?? Do you and the rest of the NEWS PAPER people not see THIS …..OR wants to pretend they don’t !!!!
    Nobv.10 -2004—Item 32 – Voted 5-0 to authorize a $200,000 loan from the Deficiencies Fund to the Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)
    for the purpose of financing the consultant agreement requested by the Performing Arts Center Committee (Option 1 recommended by Economic
    Ms. Paula Smith, Chair of the Performing Arts Center Committee, and Mr. Michael Sheridan, Chair of the Cultural Resources
    Commission, appeared before the Commission and gave a presentation on a proposal regarding the development of a performing arts
    Convened as the Tallahassee CRA and voted 5-0 accept the loan authorized by the City Commission (Option 2), and authorize an agreement with
    the Cultural Resources Commission (CRC) for an amount not to exceed $200,000 to finance the agreement between the CRC and Theatre
    Projects Consultants Inc. for pre-construction services for planning and construction of a performing arts center (Option 3) (recommended
    by Economic Development); recommended that the consultant focus initially on siting the facility at the Civic Center and the surrounding locale

  4. June 9, 2021 at 10:40 am
    “The $1.8 million grant was approved for the TLH Arts “Performance and Rehearsal Space” project.” Is that money more seed money for that $175,000,000 Performing Arts Center, that the voters has voted down over and over again ?

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