Tallahassee City Commission Supports Arts Center, Southside Satellite Project Considered

Tallahassee City Commission Supports Arts Center, Southside Satellite Project Considered

In a unanimous vote, Tallahassee City Commissioners gave the green light for the Sheridan Center for the Arts to be added to the master planning process for the Northwood Centre site. The vote took place during the City Commission meeting on January 26.

In December 2021, the Board discussed the performing arts center proposed by Michael and Judy Sheridan. The proposal calls for a public-private partnership where the city will donate 5-acres of the Northwood Centre project, and the Sheridan’s foundation will pay for the construction and operating costs of the arts center.

The proposed arts center will be a 20,000 square foot facility, housing a 450-seat auditorium, a black box performance area, a stage, and a multi-use room. The facility’s estimated cost is roughly $8 million, and Judy Sheridan said the foundation plans on initiating a campaign to raise $3 million for the construction.

Initially, some commissioners were hesitate to commit to the project at the December meeting until more details were provided. However, during the January 26 meeting, all commissioners expressed strong support in moving forward.

The Sheridan’s project had overwhelming support from the community both physically and virtually. During the meeting, the commissioners viewed a video of supporters who stressed the importance of the performing arts center and how it would positively impact the community by creating space for organizations to grow and hold performances.

Additionally, numerous citizens stood and spoke before the commission to praise the Sheridan’s efforts and express how Tallahassee would benefit from the performing arts center.

“I am an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal,” Mayor John Dailey said to start the discussion.

Commissioner Jack Porter added a few words, “I support this project…this is truly an incredibly generous donation.” She also emphasized that for decades Tallahassee has wanted an arts center and that this is a perfect opportunity.

The proposal passed with only one concern expressed by Commissioners Matlow and Williams-Cox. “This project was discussed at COCA and is proudly supported, but the question of inclusion was raised,” Matlow stated. He said he wants to move forward with the agreement to see what it will look like but to be sure to “include that piece” so that everyone has access to the arts center.

Lastly, Williams-Cox strongly suggested access for the Southside children and residents to use the Northwood Centre and also a satellite facility on the Southside of Tallahassee. She said as it is now, kids have to be bused across town for these kinds of programs.

Finally, after much debate about a satellite center and programming for the Southside, Mayor Dailey suggested to Williams-Cox to first approve the arts center to be added to the master plan of the Northwood Centre. However, to also give the city manager new direction to begin a study for a facility and what performing arts groups would benefit from a satellite center. The motion was passed unanimously.

19 Responses to "Tallahassee City Commission Supports Arts Center, Southside Satellite Project Considered"

  1. @ David,

    That historical knowledge is valuable and an asset to your campaign. One of the many reasons I will be voting for you.

    I believe a fiduciary for the Sheridan’s should step in and sign off on this as to protect these very kind generous people that I don’t want our elected officials taking advantage of.

    I believe the mayor should make it mandatory for a fiduciary and would do this if he had their best and taxpayers interest in mind.

    There has been no study or plan by professionals. They are making it up as they go along and pulling it out of their hats.

    I would even think the mayor, the mayor pro-tem, and Diane Williams Cox could be held criminally liable for promoting such a sketchy scheme that this should be forwarded to a special prosecutor for obvious reasons… Elected officials stealing money from taxpayers and well-meaning benefactors.

  2. @ Jon: This was voted down SEVERAL times. Scott Mattox started it…..it was originally going to be an 8000 Seat Complex, got Voted down. Then he changed it to a 2000 Seat Complex, got Voted down and THEN he shrunk it down to an 800 Seat Complex and STILL got Voted down. Personally, I feel that we do not need it because there is the Civic Center that can do everything this place will do and a lot more plus, there is the Ruby Diamond and several other places. I just don’t think there is enough people in Tallahassee and surrounding areas that are interested in the Fine Arts to make this feasible let alone sustainable.

  3. Didnt we vote against this years ago? I seem to recall a ballot measure. I guess they always get what they want some other way.

  4. I will bet you 5 to 1 that the Tax Payers will be on the Hook for a LOT MORE than the $8 Million Dollars for this project, NOT including the Property. Like Hope, I will be voting for Mr. Hawkins as well. He makes a great point in his first post and asks great questions in his second post. This guy truly thinks outside the box, I have been to his website and he has the solutions for the issues.

  5. I would think a Performing Arts Center and a world-class one would start at 250 million dollars, take years of planning and executing and not done in a couple of months during a re-election campaign cycle. $5000000 will not be sufficient and for this city commission to move forward is irresponsible.

    That is not to say that the Sheridan’s are lovely giving people and are honest and do have a good reputation. They are gems as far as I am concerned. They deserve to be working with a team that have their best interests and the taxpayers interests and not a desperate mayor running this all through his campaign re-election cycle.

    The Sheridan’s should be the foundation of something world-class to come, but it can’t be done during a re-election campaign cycle.

  6. There has been no contract or negotiations with the City on whether the land will be a lease or donation or any other additional terms. Nothing.
    The commission on January 26 agreed to include the performing arts in the Northwood Centre and directed staff to proceed to negotiations. It is anticipated this will be accomplished by the March meeting when the master plan is presented to the City Commission.

  7. The Sheridan’s are contributing $5 million which is the price they received to build the shell of the 20,000 sq ft structure with no amenities, such as acoustics, cameras, lighting, seats, curtains, risers, interior finishing, bathrooms, concert piano, furniture, etc, etc. It is difficult to estimate the exact costs when you have no floor plans and hopefully $3 million will cover these costs.COCA is conducting additional surveys to make sure no non-profits are excluded and to make it inclusive to all and attempting to address their needs. Additionally, how do you design plans when you have no site, not knowing the topography and measurements of the site?Until final approval of the site location, and needs of unknown non-profits, plans cannot be drawn. The Sheridans, both Mike and Judy, have proven themselves in this community to be honest, successful business owners and generous and in no way want this to fail financially. David Watson has contributed $1 million to insure sustainability. Together they have approached this as a gift to the citizens of Tallahassee, with gratitude and of supporting a need that was promised to Tallahassee 19 years ago and not paid by government so it was felt a partnership between the two might work and the City is eager to utilize this opportunity. Best research is that Florida is probably the only Capital City in the United States with no performing arts center, although we are the third largest. Unfortunately, the existing local theatre’s do not address the needs of non-profits. FSU and TCC were built for the education of their students, first. This will be an asset to Tallahassee and will benefit many. We hope others will agree and also contribute to the future of the arts community. Hope this addresses questions, thanks for the opportunity to give details,

  8. Memo to the City of Tallahassee:

    It appears the city in giving away taxpayer-owned land to anyone who just asks for it. Please sign me up!

    I was thinking of building something here in Tallahassee and have been thinking about my project for a week or two. I have absolutely no idea where I will get the money to pay for it or even if it will ever get built. However, I’m asking the city to please give me 10 acres of their prime real estate. Trust me, it’s going to a grand project.

    Do we have a deal like the one you just gave the Sheridans?

  9. Excellent questions from soon-to-be Leon County Commissioner District 5, David Hawkins!

    Let’s see if they respond and answer these very important questions…

  10. A few of the Voices in my head and I were talking about this Project and we have questions………..Is the City donating the USE of this Property for them to build on or is the City donating the Property to the Sheridan foundation as in, signing it over to them. If it is DONATING the Property to the Sheridan foundation then they could just put a Mortgage on it and get a big chunk of the needed funding to start building the Center, and if it fails, someone else could end up owning it. What happens if and when it is no longer sustainable, what then? Does it become Tax Payer Funded? If it does Fail and is no longer sustainable, is it in the Contract that it reverts back to the City, including the Building? We already have an Unfinished HOTEL Boondoggle Down Town that we are still wondering what is going to happen with that.

  11. If this was a well thought-out world class plan with backing by solid foundations, sate, federal, and philanthropic funding sources it could gain some traction, and be a reality with a few years of good planning. This is a thrown together plan with no long-term thought or funding sources in play… A desperate attempt by an incumbent mayor’s re-election desperation.

    If and when they decide to do it in a world-class way I wouldn’t mind contributing as a taxpayer on a 30-year plan, but when they ragtag it all the way along, slap it on next to the police station with no more than a few months of thought put into to it, you get what you pay and vote for.

    I think the money would be better spent on scholarships for students to the most prestigious performing arts schools.

  12. Like The TLCCC..Ruby Diamond..FSU Fine Arts Building and TCC Auditorium weren’t enough already for the amount of “performing arts” in this town?..This sounds like another in the long line of shady deals in Tally..SMH

  13. The Sheridans proposed to the City an Arts Center named after them. They apparently got the City to give them 5 acres of prime commercial land that the taxpayers bought and want to build a 8 million dollar center that they apparently do not have funding for. Also, Anita Favors is one of the board members of The Sheridan Center. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the taxpayers will have to pay for this and possibly some graft as well.

  14. “The facility’s estimated cost is roughly $8 million, and Judy Sheridan said the foundation plans on initiating a campaign to raise $3 million for the construction.” ……..So, what they are saying is, they don’t actually have the Money to build the Arts Center? Then why is this being discussed this deep NOW? Why don’t you just set aside the 5 Acres and then wait and see if they raise the full $8 Million to build it. Set a time line, 6 Months or 12 Months and if they don’t have the full $8 Million, you drop it and move on. Agree to donate the Land but, do not sign any Contracts on this and do not Vote on any Agendas on this Project until they are fully Funded on their own.

  15. Still waiting to hear who will pay for the “satellite” center. And yes, somehow taxpayers will be on the hook for the shortfall in “promised” finances… “It’s too far along to cancel now”

  16. @Hope

    The money that went to the FSU stadium was part of a larger package that sent money to FAMU and TCC, too. I still don’t have a really strong opinion on that, but it does seem in line with what “community” expenditures can legitimately be.

    Regarding the Arts center, I agree. This is just another expensive boondoggle that most of us don’t want and will never use.

  17. They have to raise $3 million for the construction project? That money should already be there no questions asked and an automatic denial. Mayor Dailey has no leadership ability which was evident as his lack of leadership on the County Commission. This is strictly a attempt to put a feather in his cap at the taxpayers expense for his re-election campaign. I am skeptical and the $3 million yet to be raised is a huge red flag.

    Especially when they recently illegally diverted millions of dollars meant for infrastructure funds to be funneled into a special interest (stadium) it is only going to get worse.

    There is simply no fiscal responsibility or leadership in our City and County Government.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.