In August, the City of Tallahassee began demolition of the Northwood Centre which was purchased by the city in 2019 for $6.8 million. The land will eventually be home to the Tallahassee Police Department and possibly a new performing arts center.
During the December 14th City Commissioner meeting, Mayor John Dailey motioned to have an item brought back for the next January meeting to further discuss the possibility of a performing art center.
“I think we have an amazing opportunity,” Dailey said. “I think it’s a prime time for us to kick off the new year and have this conversation,” to discuss how the development of the Northwood Centre will look.
The art center is a proposal by the Michael H. and Judy W. Sheridan Center for the Arts Foundation. According to media reports, the proposal calls for a public-private partnership where the city donates 5-acres of the 29.5-acre Northwood Centre and in exchange, the foundation will cover the construction and operating costs.
The Sheridan’s vision is a roughly 450 seat auditorium, nothing like the large 1,800 seat theaters that the city has rejected in the past. Instead, this theater would potentially house a black box performance area to accommodate 150 seats, a stage, and multi-use room with a catering kitchen for rehearsals or banquets. The projects estimated cost is around $8 million.
“I’m not sure if now is the time to make commitments or to bring back items dealing with just that parcel or that concept,” Commissioner Curtis Richardson said. “I would like to have a more general conversation about the site itself and what we are going to do in terms of housing and commercial development,” instead of solely focusing on a performing arts center.
However, the motion eventually passed unanimously, with hesitation to make any formal commitments to the project. Though Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox mentioned, there is a sense of urgency involving the project due to health issues relating to Sheridan.
“I think we need to be fair, and we need to realize his sense of urgency,” said Williams-Cox. “We need to begin the conversation because nothing is going to happen until we begin the conversation.”