By: Bailey Myers
December 4th, 2013
Tallahassee FL- Something is cooking in Tallahassee's Cascade Park. Millions of dollars both from the City and private sectors will fund the renovation of a local historic building into a business -- but not everyone is excited about the news.
Susan Campbell lives just about one mile from Cascade Park described the commission meeting, "They hear us like the children hear the teacher in Charlie Brown-- whomp whomp whomp. Then they go ahead and do what ever they want to do and that's what they did today."
Tallahassee Residents left Wednesday's City Commission meeting frustrated. Commissioners approved plans to renovate the old electric building at Cascades park to turn it into a restaurant. Residents are worried this restaurant will be a 'defacto bar,' in turn creating some late night disturbances.
"We are taking all the necessary steps to make sure the neighbors are protected so they don't have to deal with a nuisance that makes living there unbearable. But we also have the larger community interest to also hold," explained Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum.
According to the commission this restaurant is what the greater community wants. Project founder Adam Corey agrees, and believes with the help of the residents in the Cascades area, this restaurant could be a huge success. Corey said, "I am also worried in terms of their concerns so i'm going to make sure I don't do anything to jeopardize their friendship because my most important customer is going to be my neighbors."
The commissioners mentioned tonight that they hope Cascade Park will be open in march. they hope to start the renovation process of the old electric building as soon as possible.
Adam Corey's company Cascades Holdings is set to open a new restaurant and bar called Edison's at the old electric building in Cascades Park.
"We want to be that neighborhood restaurant that they want to enjoy and we plan to really engage them," said Corey.
The city commission has already approved about $2.1 million for renovations. Corey's company will then add an investment of about $1.5 million to open up the restaurant and pay rent towards the city.
Not everyone is as enthusiastic as Corey for the plans in Cascades park, in fact, one city commissioner has some concerns moving forward.
"Whatever we do there needs to be successful," said commissioner Gil Ziffer.
He says the lack of parking and close proximity to residential neighborhoods are just some reasons he believes the restaurants won't work.
"I've just got some concerns that a restaurant, any restaurant, that anybody would do would have a high degree of chance of success."
Corey points to the success of his restaurant 101 as proof he'll make the new spot successful.
"This project is a great thing for the city of Tallahassee this Cascades park and I think this is going to do great things for this community."
The city commission will vote on whether the city manager can continue to negotiate terms of the restaurant with Corey's business in the future.
A proposed publicly funded brew pub has taken another step forward.
The Tallahassee City Commission approved funding to fix up the building in Cascades Park for the pub Wednesday night.
Eyewitness News first took you inside the old electric building in August to show what will be required to turn it into a brew pub.
"The city and the CRA are about to spend a lot of money," said Tallahassee Commissioner Gil Ziffer. "I just want to make sure whatever goes in there is successful," he said.
On Wednesday night, Ziffer was the only commissioner to vote against the funding to fix up the building.
Commissioners approved $1.3 million from two left over public works projects to help fund the building renovations.
That money is expected to be paid back as part of a 20 year lease with the pub operator.
The Community Redevelopment Authority or CRA is adding another $800,000 to fix the building.
And the developers are expected to invest $1.5 million.
"And I still have some questions about the lease agreement that we have with a potential vendor," said Ziffer. "So at this time, I just wasn't ready to vote yes," he said.
Specifically, Ziffer says he wants to know what the pub hours of operation will be and what the business model is.
Ziffer and the other commissioners will have another opportunity to vote on the pub once city leaders and the developer reach a deal.
"It's a win-win for the community if the project is good and they can run a good restaurant," said Ziffer. "City will get paid back, CRA gets paid back and the community gets a good restaurant," he said. "I think that's a good thing," Ziffer said.
Adam Corey, who owns and operates another restaurant in Kleman Plaza, is the lead developer for the brew pub.
He says negotiations on a deal with the city should be finalized in two weeks.
Corey says the likely name will be "The Edison" to emphasize the building's electric company roots and historic atmosphere.
Tallahassee tax dollars are on the line for an investment in a new restaurant.
The plan is to renovate an old building in Cascades Park and then lease it for a new brew pub.
It sits almost in the shadow of the new amphitheater at the Cascades Park project.
The old building belongs to the city of Tallahassee.
A look inside and you'll find broken windows, rotting wood, even graffiti, including Bugs Bunny.
"We're saying, how do we re-use a building and invest in it and hopefully get a return on it and it becomes an additional amenity for the park," said Tallahassee Assistant City Manager Jay Townsend.
The answer involves more than carrot money.
The city put out a request for proposal to tranform the building into a restaurant.
The first time there were no takers.
A second effort landed what city leaders say is one viable proposal.
Under proposed terms of the yet to be signed and completed deal, the city will invest up to $2.1 million to fix up the building.
The tenant will get one year's rent free and will pay back the city's investment in rent over 20 years.
"It's a risky venture for a private entity to come in there where you have limited parking, you're in a park like setting," said Townsend.
The deal is being negotiated with a company called Proof Brewing.
But according to investor Adam Corey who owns "101 Restaurant" in Kleman Plaza, Proof's role has been reduced from owning and operating the brew pub to providing beer.
He says his newly formed Cascades Holdings will run the restaurant.
Corey is also the treasurer for Commissioner Andrew Gillum's mayoral campaign.
Corey says they're unrelated.
"We have been dealing primarily with Mr. Corey." said Townsend. "Our position as a city is we're still doing business with Proof Brewing Company," he said.
Because part of the money to fix the old building comes from sales tax bond money, there will be a public hearing.
That hearing is expected to be scheduled for next month during the city's budget process.