Controversy Clouds City Land Sale

Controversy Clouds City Land Sale

On Wednesday, December 8, the City Commissioners voted to approve the negotiation of terms with Peerless Development to sell a city-owned vacant lot that totals 0.26 acres. The item passed in a 3-2 vote with Commissioner Jeremy Matlow and Commissioner Jack Porter in opposition.

Recently the city received an unsolicited request from a developer, Peerless Development, to purchase a plot of city-owned vacant land on 526-528 W. Tennessee Street. The land is currently designated in the city’s “Comprehensive Plan,” which intends to expand the area into a “vibrant 18-hour urban activity center,” emphasizing pedestrian, bike, and transit modes of transportation.

According to the proposal from Peerless, they are working toward an assemblage of multiple parcels for a mixed-use project and desires to include the city property in their final redevelopment plan.

The developer’s intentions include roughly 300 dwelling units for student housing and 15,000 square feet on the ground floor for retail. According to the report, the project’s economic impact includes approximately $50 million in mixed-use development, the creation of 400+ construction jobs, an estimated minimum of 20 plus permanent jobs created, and an anticipated $600,000 in additional property tax revenue each year.

The city originally purchased the property in two transactions in 1998 and 2001 totaling $182,000. The city purchased the land for a “mixed-use” project, but it was never completed.

Several members of the Frenchtown community attended the meeting and spoke out against the sale. Some speakers noted the Frenchtown Neighborhood First Plan and stated the land should be used for local business. The Frenchtown Neighborhood First Plan advances new ideas to address neighborhood priorities.

Both Commissioner Porter and Commissioner Matlow were against moving forward with negotiations with Peerless. Instead, they felt it was necessary to first talk with the community to hear public concerns, have the land appraised, and open it for a competitive bid.

“How can we determine the best interest in the city, without knowing a dollar amount, without knowing what the surrounding neighborhood is requesting,” said Matlow.

Matlow then cited an email that was allegedly received by city staff members asking how to purchase property without a competitive bid process. “I have serious concerns about that,” Matlow said and finished his remarks by making a motion to turn down the bit.

When Dailey asked Commissioner Matlow what email he was referencing. Matlow responded, “there was a news report that stated the staff was contacted about this particular parcel.” Dailey inquired which news outlet, to which Matlows response was, “it’s out there, it was on a social media shared post,” Matlow said, but never mentioned what news organization.

Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox made a secondary motion to approve the negotiation process with the added stipulations that Peerless must discuss the community’s needs. Also, Williams-Cox stated that Tallahassee doesn’t need any more student housing. However, if Peerless wants to negotiate affordable housing to address homelessness, she is open to moving forward.

Mayor Daily and Commissioner Curtis Richardson, who seconded the motion, agreed with Williams-Cox and voted favorably.

12 Responses to "Controversy Clouds City Land Sale"

  1. We don’t need low income housing in French town, there is plenty all over the place there. We need homes that generate taxes to help PAY for all the services we dump into that area. Quit living in the past. We need business development, retail jobs and nice places for students or whomever to live in. Gee, why build student apts RIGHT across from FSU…how dumb is that? FSU should expand out and up Tenn Street.

  2. Figures that Peerless is based in Chicago. After all, a few years ago we adopted the Chicago “Cure Violence” program, paid them money too. You see where that got us.

  3. The corruptive culture is still in play with Mayor Dailey, Commissioners Curtis Richardson, and Diane Williams Cox continuing to participate in it…

    The mayor’s bad decisions, lack of leadership, and corruption would make him an easy one to beat in his bid for re-election. Hopefully, a good citizen or two will step up and take on the task.

    Tallahassee needs a leader and not The Waterboy for the failed Biden Administration.

  4. This is a really large bubble getting ready to explode. I guess Peerless Development hasn’t took a walk along Gaines Street and seen the vacant
    commerial property all over the place. and it looks like it’s getting a lot worse.

  5. I’ve long been of the opinion that the way the city has encouraged outside interests to come in, build student housing, and move onto the next city is just wrong. I’d have preferred that they had gotten several of the local builders, landlords, etc. to form a consortium to develop and/or manage property development locally.

    Instead, we have multiple outside influences that are impacting our politics our community.

  6. Paying lip service to Frenchtown and her residents, while openly engaged in the gentrification of said. When will our communities of color wake up to the reality that we are nothing but pawns to the rich white elite liberal class?

    On another note:

    “Matlow then cited an email that was allegedly received by city staff members asking how to purchase property without a competitive bid process.”

    If this is true, then the cloud of insider corruption that has hung over the city for decades remains firmly in place. This should be fully and transparently investigated.

    On the other hand, if Matlow is making yet another damming and unsubstantiated self-serving claim… then it is high time the Commission Censure him until he can be replaced by someone with integrity.

  7. What is Peerless Development willing to pay for it. It should be worth north of $500,000 now. We don’t have enough Student Housing already? How will this project enhance French Town? Commissioner Matlow and Porter are right.

  8. It’s a shame Mayor Dailey isn’t advocating for the good people of Frenchtown with the same fervor he advocates for Peerless and other out of town developers.

    He is awful…I wonder if he’s smoking meth too?

  9. Its obvious the Mayor and the rest of the commission have not shared the methods to obtain campaign contributions from business’s like Peerless when they approach the City asking for stuff. How else can you explain Matlow and Porter not voting with the Commission so many times. Oh yeah I heard the urban legend that there might be an honest leftist politician somewhere in the Leon County area but you just cant believe every crazy story you hear you know.

  10. I have to commend Commissioners Matlow and Porter on this one and what is wrong with the other three? Either kickbacks, campaign donations, or worse.

    Again Commissioners Matlow and Porter are 100% on the mark and it is disappointing that the other three would go along with this scheme.

    Forbidding Neighborhood concerns, no bids, and no appraisal. How many rules and laws did Mayor Dailey, Curtis Richardson, and Diane Williams-Cox break on this one?

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