Cascades Project breaks ground, bringing retail, office, hotel and living space downtown

Published: Jun. 25, 2019 at 5:34 PM EDT
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

June 25, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Cascades Project has broken ground in downtown Tallahassee, after years of planning.

The project involves two full city blocks of development, with planning dating back to 2008.

The development includes a hotel, office and retail space, apartments for rent, town homes for sale, and public parking.

"It'll establish the mixed use 18 hour community that they have been striving for," said North American Properties partner Shawn McIntyre.

The AC by Marriott hotel will have 154 rooms.

In addition to parking for the hotel, office, and apartments, the City has also purchased 250 parking spaces for the public to use when visiting the area.

There will be 161 market rate apartment units, with a rooftop pool, and ten three-story, for-sale town homes.

The project also includes 40,000 feet of office space, as well as retail space on the first floor of the building.

That retail space has not yet been decided, but North American Properties partner Shawn McIntyre wants to appeal to people who already visit Cascades Park.

"The ground floor will be restaurants servicing the park. Right now, there's no place for families with children to go and have the standard chicken nuggets and soda while the kids are playing," said McIntyre.

"This is going to be transformative for downtown," said Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson.

Richardson was on the CRA board and previous City Commissions as this project was planned.

"I'm excited," said Richardson. "It's going to be a multi-million dollar investment."

The parking garages will be hidden from the landscape by a large retaining wall, which is partially completed already.

"The wall is there to hide the parking deck, so that as you're driving by you do not see our parking deck," explained McIntyre.

These buildings are being pre-cast.

"They're made out of concrete and steel in panels. They will be brought to the job site and be placed in a certain order to create buildings," explained McIntyre. "What it does, is it creates very good quality control for the openings and for water intrusion."

This technique also means the buildings can be completed quickly.

The Marriott Hotel will begin construction in August, and the outside of the building will be complete by early November.

North American Properties also remodeled and restored a building on the property that dates back to 1939.

After years of rainwater seeping through the building, the developers removed the vinyl flooring and restored the old wooden ceilings, preserving history for the next tenants.

The Cascades Project is expected to bring in revenue for the City.

"For example, the bed tax in Tallahassee," said McIntyre. "The Marriott's going to generate over half a million dollars in bed tax that's not being generated right now."

An independent study found that with construction costs and short-term jobs, the project will generate $120 million in the next twenty months.

Downtown Improvement Authority Chair Elizabeth Emmanuel believes this project is an example of a successful public-private partnership.

"The Cascades Project is going to shift the skyline," said Emmanuel. "We are going to see great improvements in what's available in our community downtown."

The entire office space, public plaza, and hotel will be complete in November of 2020, while the town homes and the apartments are estimated to be ready for move-in in April or May of 2021.