Despite discussion to dissolve Downtown CRA, two projects move forward

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By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- The joint city-county Community Redevelopment Agency moved forward with two big projects at Wednesday's meeting.

The CRA board authorized staff to move forward with negotiations for a funding agreement with North American Properties. The developer plans to purchase the Firestone and Bloxham buildings from the CRA for more than $4 million dollars to create an urban mixed-use development.

North American Properties is asking for $2.5 million in CRA funding to put towards pieces of the project, which will be public features.

Plans for the new development include office space, a 123-room boutique hotel, 304 multifamily residential apartments, 24 one-bedroom condominiums, and three restaurants. It will also include a wellness center, a "festival street" with shops, a civil rights memorial, and public event space.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $158 million.

CRA staff presented a study done by Florida State University on the property, which indicates a large economic impact on the property itself and the local economy.

The report states that the project will generate nearly $1.3 million in annual property taxes for the Downtown CRA. Right now, the property brings in no tax money. It also said the project will create 916 construction jobs, 365 indirect jobs, 928 additional induced jobs and 694 permanent jobs. That's a $353.6 million total economic output and $117.8 million in wages.

The other big project on Wednesday's agenda was the Envision project.

Envision Credit Union has agreed to purchase the City of Tallahassee's former utility drive thru center on Monroe Street. Envision plans to move its operations to that location, and sell its current Monroe Street property to MCS Capital Partners for redevelopment.

MCS Capital Partners is proposing to build more than 250 apartments, add retail space, and create resident and retail parking. The group estimates it'll cost $30 million to redevelop the property.

However, MCS Capital Partners has indicated it won't move forward with the project without funding from the CRA. A specific dollar request has not yet been made.

The CRA board approved staff moving forward with discussions on what a deal could look like, but that does not mean it will accept the deal or take on the project.

Movement in both projects comes at a time when the Board is considering dissolving the Downtown CRA district. The board has agreed that no more projects over $2 million will be considered. That does not include the NAP or Envision project.

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