Frenchtown/Southside Community Redevelopment Area
In an effort to revitalize the areas to the north and south of downtown, the City of Tallahassee Commission established the Frenchtown/Southside Community Redevelopment Area (F/S CRA) and the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in 1998. The Frenchtown/Southside Community Redevelopment Plan and the trust fund for the F/S CRA were adopted in June 2000. An update to the redevelopment plan is currently underway. A Citizen's Advisory Committee, consisting of seven members representing the business and neighborhood components of the Frenchtown and Southside areas, also helps in the development of programs aimed at enhancing the F/S CRA.
The F/S CRA consists of over 1,450 acres of residential, commercial and industrial land uses located near the heart of downtown Tallahassee. View the map of the Frenchtown/Southside CRA (PDF). Included within the boundaries of the redevelopment area are thirteen neighborhood communities, seven major commercial areas, and numerous mixed-use areas. In addition, the area borders parts of the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) and the Florida State University (FSU).
With such a large and diverse area, numerous opportunities exist for new development and redevelopment of residential, commercial and industrial properties. The CRA is actively involved with developers and community groups to create unique and successful development opportunities. Complementing the activities of the CRA, the City has developed a variety of economic development incentives
that can also be used within the redevelopment area to promote new businesses, expand existing businesses and rehabilitate historic structures.
To date, the Community Redevelopment Agency has provided or committed tax increment funds to support a variety of projects in the redevelopment area. Major projects that have been completed or are under development in the redevelopment area include:
- Sidewalk Construction - Agency funds were used to construct a sidewalk along the east side of South Adams Street from Magnolia to Orange Avenue. Bordering Florida A&M University, this is an area of major pedestrian traffic.
- Streetscape Improvements - Agency funds were used to design and install landscape improvements along Railroad Avenue, located within the Gaines Street Revitalization Area.
- Goodbread Hills Affordable Apartment Complex - The Agency invested $925,000 in this project, which was leveraged with over $11 Million in private investment. The project consists of 45 townhome and 48 garden-style apartments for families at 60 percent of the area-wide median income level or less. In addition, 20 percent of the units are reserved for very low-income families at 30 percent of the area-wide median income level. The complex promotes the look and feel of an owner-occupied urban neighborhood. In acknowledgement of the success of this redevelopment effort, the Agency received recognition from the Florida Redevelopment Association as the Outstanding Affordable Housing Project for 2007.
- Tish Byrd Community Garden - The Board approved a $125,000 grant to the Frenchtown Community Development Corporation (CDC) to leverage against $440,000 state and private sector funds and donations for the construction of the half-acre Tish Byrd Community Garden in the Carolina Oaks neighborhood. The house and garden will be managed and administered by the Frenchtown CDC, who will develop and program activities to benefit the Frenchtown community.
- Commercial Façade Improvement Program - This program provides for the use of tax increment funds to leverage private investment for general exterior improvements to non-residential structures, in order to help eliminate slum and blighting influences with the redevelopment area. Eligible applicants can receive funding up to $50,000 on a one-to-one match with equal owner/tenant funding for façade improvements. As of January 1, 2010 the program has funded nine projects, with a total of $356,343 in grant funds against a total improvement value of $1,452,834.
- Affordable and Workforce Housing Funding Program - The Agency recently instituted this program, which allows both non-profit and for-profit developers to apply for funding assistance. The funds can be used in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, land acquisition, construction, and homeowner financing assistance. Funding is provided in the form of a grant to non-profit developers and a low-interest loan to for-profit developers. Recognizing the importance of affordable housing, the Agency has committed to set aside approximately $500,000 each year to support this program, provided the Agency receives enough income to support this and other programs. In fiscal year 2008 the Agency funded $816,550 in affordable housing projects, with recipients including the Tallahassee Lenders Consortium, the Bethel Community Development Corporation, and others.
- Commercial Painting Grant Program - To help further foster commercial redevelopment, the Agency created a commercial painting grant pilot program that provides up to $5,000 in grant funds for the exterior painting of commercial properties that are located on Gaines Street and Lake Bradford Road.
- Update of the Frenchtown/Southside Community Redevelopment Plan - The Agency is currently working with our consultants to update the redevelopment plan, originally prepared in May 2000. The update will incorporate changes that have occurred in the redevelopment area since the adoption of the original plan, and will help guide the strategies and activities of the Agency in the Frenchtown/Southside area for years to come.
- Residential Landscape Program - Awards a $250 grant to 80 households within the redevelopment area to receive landscape advice and to purchase plants. The CRA partnered with four local nurseries to provide individual landscape consultations at the homes of the 80 grant recipients and to provide a $200 gift certificate to be used at the nurseries for the purchase of plants and planting materials. Recipients were selected on a first-come, first-served basis. The goal is to improve the appearance of households participating in this program, which will encourage other residents in the area to make similar improvements, leading to the general enhancement of the visual appearance of neighborhoods within the redevelopment area.