CRA board takes big steps for Frenchtown-Southside district

By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 9, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The city-county Community Redevelopment Agency took big steps Thursday to address issues in the Frenchtown-Southside district.

The group voted unanimously for staff to begin necessity studies for expanding the district. Studies will be issued for an area in South City, the Orange Avenue infill and Springhill Road area.

During the study, staff will look for signs of “blight.” Under state law, the areas must meet at least two out of 14 definitions of blight. The agency will focus on three of those definitions which include property values, fire and EMS response and Florida code enforcement violations.

Commission Curtis Richardson, who has been leading the charge, said he’s pleased to see it move forward.

"Now we can begin to turn our attention to revitalizing and redeveloping those distressed areas that CRA's are initially designed to address,” said Richardson.

If all goes to plan, the expansion could happen in April.

The board also voted to approve the creation of a demolition program fund, which would set aside $200,000 to assist with the demolition of abandoned and dilapidated houses.

According to city code enforcement, there are 42 properties that have pending applications for demolition. 15 of those are in the Frenchtown-Southside district. It typically costs about $7,000 per property.

Residents from the area came to speak and support the project.

"It's really an eyesore to the community and it also presents a danger to the community. And we'd like to see them removed. And we're trying to do this block by block. Housing, anyway. So that will really help us,” said Jim Bellamy, with the Frenchtown Neighborhood Improvement Association.

Bellamy noted that earlier this year a woman was allegedly abducted and raped in an abandoned home on Brevard Street.

Staff will come back to the board in January with the details of the plan.

The board also voted to approve funding to help renovate the Taylor House Museum, which is an historical property. As well as approve a 180-day extension to the Frenchtown Redevelopment Partners for exclusive rights to present a proposal for the property of the old homeless shelter.

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