CRA approves Frenchtown Gateway project to move forward

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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 11, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Frenchtown Gateway Project is moving forward, after discussion and input for almost three years.

Property owners on Macomb, Virginia, and Tennessee Streets will work together to transform the block.

The Community Redevelopment Agency approved the proposal from T. Brown Consulting and authorized City staff to negotiate a purchase agreement and a development agreement.

The plan calls for 174 units of workforce housing.

"We've heard from the community the desire to bring additional quality housing for low and moderate income residents," said Tony Brown, the President of T. Brown Consulting Group.

One employee at Artistic Barbershop is excited about the possibility of a larger population living in the area.

"People carry money. And so the more people you have, the more money you can have access to," said Dale Pace. "So, affordable housing? Yes. Yes, especially in this area."

The design also includes a grocery store, or possible an urgent care neighborhood clinic. Both would be in an ideal location for residents to use.

"Something good for those who are struggling with transportation where they'll really have access," said Pace.

Frenchtown resident Tony White is hoping for more affordable housing for single mothers in particular.

"They really have nowhere to go and the grocery store could be right there and they could shop right there and go right back into their apartment," said White.

The affordable housing will help the new businesses as well.

"We want to build the density of residents that will be able to support not only the grocery store, but other retail establishments in that area," said City Commissioner and CRA Chair Curtis Richardson.

Tony Brown is full of different ideas to help the community.

"If we can't get the grocery store then we'll bring on additional retail that would be important to the area residents," said Brown.

T. Brown Consulting hopes to deliver the construction documents to the CRA board by this time next year.

Downtown Improvements
The Community Redevelopment Agency is also funding the improvements of an old downtown building.

The 107 West College Street property has a unique look, with a popular mural no the outside.

The $50,000 grant from the CRA will go toward improving the facade of the building. It dates back to the early 1900s, and has had many uses over the years.

Many may recognize the "Postcard" Tallahassee mural on the outside; although the grant money will go toward cleaning up and renovating the outside of the building, the investor intends to preserve that mural and move it elsewhere.

"The current intent is to put a second floor back in the building and ideally have ground floor retail space with second floor office space, ultimately with the objective of cleaning up the block," said investor Mike Steiner.

The building sites next to an alleyway that has been used for many years by other tenants for trash, with food and bar waste often running out of the alley into the street.

Steiner will be creating a use agreement for the alleyway, consolidating trash and cleaning up the area.

He has submitted for building permits, and hopes to have the project started early next month.

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