After pandemic delay, FSU students craft road map for Providence neighborhood’s renaissance

The Providence Neighborhood in Tallahassee wants to keep up with growth happening all around...
The Providence Neighborhood in Tallahassee wants to keep up with growth happening all around it. Now, FSU students have a plan to help that happen.(WCTV)
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 10:33 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - With a round of applause, masters students at FSU’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning wrapped up a semester’s worth of work.

But the work for Tallahassee’s Providence neighborhood is long from over.

It’s been a long time coming for Providence Neighborhood Association President Walter McDonald.

“I think this project brought a lot of light to our neighborhood,” he said.

WCTV first reported on efforts to reshape the neighborhood nestled off Lake Bradford Road in February 2020. A brainstorming workshop promised action later in the year.

But then came a global pandemic.

“When the pandemic hit, we just shut down everything, we were doing surveys, we shut down everything for a couple months,” he said.

The pandemic exposed the need for action. McDonald pressured the city to take charge.

“We just can’t stop because of the pandemic we need to move it forward,” he said.

So the city greenlit this work from FSU, presented Monday night at Innovation Park’s RIDER lab. Tia Maxwell is co-leader of the group.

“There were a lot of difficulties adjusting in general, the idea of complete community engagement during a pandemic,” she said.

Still, the team knocked on every door of the nearly 700-household neighborhood. A third responded to the survey, revealing top priorities like affordable housing and public safety.

“I would describe this as a vibrant community with people who are really invested in what happens next,” Maxwell said.

The team took an outdated 2003 neighborhood renaissance plan and reworked it to present dozens of tasks for the future.

But McDonald said it’ll take the city and county to commit dollars alongside those tasks for tangible change to happen.

“Let’s see hammers and nails going, let’s see lumber, buildings go up,” he said. “They spend all the money on Gaines street, but none of it comes south to Lake Bradford.  And we’re down south of Lake Bradford, and we need economic development on our side of town.”

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