Frenchtown residents speak out against proposed development

By: Alicia Turner
March 21, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Residents of Frenchtown gathered Tuesday afternoon to make their voices heard. Many of them, expressing that they’re not happy after learning about a proposed student housing development in the neighborhood. Residents say they didn’t appreciate being left in the dark about the plans.

"We sat in on meetings where they didn't mention it at all,” said Rosa Morgan, a long time Frenchtown supporter.

She’s doing what the dozens of others at the rally were doing as well, speaking out to protect their beloved community. That’s because the very place where the rally is held, is the same place which could soon become home to a close to 1,000 bed student housing complex.

Wisnerson Benoit, a Frenchtown supporter, says, "The process could have been different. There could have been a way to make something that could have had an element that includes the community as well."

The proposed location would be the corner of Macomb and Carolina Street, stretching all the way to the pond.

Residents are saying it’s more important to them to bring in families and businesses; things they believe could make the community thrive.

"To advocate for a kind of development that takes into account the local community, and not just the temporary transient student population and selling to them luxury apartments," said Wisnerson Benoit.

"Don't do it, gentrification sucks," says Scout Buchanon.

Buchanon could lose her home if this development is approved. She says for her, the biggest thing is preserving a community that's rich in history.

"How do you know what kind of red flags are going to pop up if you don't know about the past?" Scout said.

Wisnerson had this to say, "Growth is good for everyone if it includes everyone. We're not opposed to growth. Change happens, it’s inevitable."

Now the question becomes what that change will ultimately be.

This development still has to go before the city council for a vote. That'll take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

By: Alicia Turner
March 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A construction site at the corner of Macomb and Brevard Street in Tallahassee could soon become a sight that’s all too familiar for folks living in the area. That’s because a portion of the Frenchtown neighborhood may be the future home of more student housing. Many residents expressed that they’re not happy about this, and are planning to make their voices heard.

"I remember when most of these streets were dirt roads, and when they got paved basically,” said Jim Bellamy.

As Bellamy travels down memory lane, black and white pictures line the walls inside Mutaqee Akbar’s Law Firm in the heart of the Frenchtown neighborhood. They offer a flashback to the old days of the Frenchtown neighborhood. Now residents say it’s simply not like it used to be.

Bellamy said, "It’s almost like with this kind of stuff that you just kind of completely wipe out the history of this community all together.”

Residents like Bellamy say they're upset a new student housing unit could possibly come to that area. This one could be a complex that holds close to one thousand beds.

"Please not in Frenchtown. If you want to bring more money into Frenchtown please find a different way," said Mercy Miranda.

While many like Mercy say they want to see the area developed, they feel there are other ways to do it.

"You can't just keep putting people in here and not have services to accommodate those people. A grocery store or a place where you can get something to eat. You can't even get breakfast in here unless you go to McDonald's," Bellamy said.

"Right now there's really no plan for retail or business or anything like that so if they're going to do it, they should bring those businesses here as well," said Mutaquee Akbar.

Most residents explained that if they don't fight back now, the problem will only get worse. For example, residents said Frenchtown was once a community filled with residential homes; now, with the exception of one corner, it’s surrounded by student housing.

Frenchtown residents will host a rally starting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Supporters are gathering at the 400 block of North Macomb Street.

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