The City Commission voted 3-1 to sell a city -owned vacant parcel of land located at 650 W. Gaines Street. Commissioner Jacqueline Porter voted against the sale and Commissioner Matlow recused himself due to a potential conflict.
The transaction was completed without a competitive bid solicitation.
The Tallahassee City Commission has recently approved a similar transaction without a competitive bid solicitation.
City Commission Policy #136 – Real Estate Policy, the City Commission can approve the sale of the property without a bid if the Commission determines that the sale is in the best interest of the City.
Commissioner Curtis Richardson took great offense to the implication by some speakers on the issue that he and his fellow commissioners might be acting in an immoral fashion. He said they would not answer for the mistakes of their predecessors.
Richardson said, “of course we consulted with our attorney, we want to do what is right for Tallahassee.” Richardson also noted that in this case, the south side of the city will directly benefit from the revenue created by the sale of this property, which is good for the community.
The city staff highlighted the following benefits from selling the city owned land:
- Consistent with the City’s Strategic Plan priorities including economic development, impact on poverty, and public infrastructure.
- Promotes comprehensive plan priorities such as infill development and redevelopment.
- Consistent with the vision of the Gaines Street Vitalization Plan.
- The sale facilitates redevelopment, returns the property to the tax roll.
- Removes maintenance responsibilities from the City.
- Allows immediate purchase/sale negotiations with a ready and willing buyer at a price greater than other properties within the immediate area.
- Facilitates removal of blighted properties.
According to the staff analysis, as a stand-alone parcel, the City-owned real estate has limited development potential due to its size, shape and utility encumbrances. However, the interested party is working toward an assembly of multiple parcels for redevelopment that will include the City parcel as well as adjacent non-City property. This assemblage of properties allow for a cohesive redevelopment plan that will provide for greater in-fill density/intensity and increase the utility of City property that would otherwise be difficult to develop.
Staff recommends the sale of the property to the 908 Group in the amount of $4,000,000 without a competitive bid solicitation in accordance with City Commission Policy #136.
The 908 Group, located in Tampa, Fl., is a boutique real estate development services firm specializing in urban infill, multifamily and mixed-use projects.
The vacant property was purchased by the City in 2016 for $1,418,959.73 (including $15,930.73 for closing costs) as part of a project to construct a large drainage facility from Madison Street to the Regional Stormwater Management facility at Lake Elberta. The drainage project has been completed, and the property has been utilized as a dirt surface parking lot as an interim use.
The CRA has allocated funding to provide a formal, paved parking lot on the property. However, at the time of CRA funding approval, staff indicated that the City had received an interest to purchase the property and would work through any development interests prior to commencing construction of the parking lot.
Staff states that the developer, who has constructed multiple student housing developments in the immediate area, intends to construct a multifamily student housing project.
City staff notes that based on sales within the market area, and notwithstanding the drainage facility encumbering the property, the value of 650 W. Gaines Street as a stand-alone site is estimated to be approximately $35 per square foot, or $1,586,000. Commission approval would allow immediate purchase/sale negotiations with a ready and willing buyer at a price greater than other properties within the immediate area.