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Letter regarding the Frenchtown Development

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The BHNA has established our position regarding a proposed Frenchtown Development.  The text of the letter is below.

To: Mr. Jim Bellamy, Frenchtown Neighborhood Improvement Authority

This letter is to affirm the Betton Hills Neighborhood Association’s Board of Directors support for your opposition to the sale of the city-owned parcel fronting Macomb St. across from the Renaissance Center. Our opposition points and proposed solutions are presented below.

City Initiative: It’s Placemaking, not Placetaking. Midtown, Market District, South Monroe-Adams, and College Ave. all represent developing distinctive areas for living and entertaining in Tallahassee. The city is committed to placemaking. Why then, in one of the most historically-distinctive sections of town, should we act in a placetaking manner? Why obliterate the space which once, and could again, house vibrant and unique locally owned stores and businesses that cater to Frenchtown residents and the city at large? We should not be taking the past and future from a place ready-made for placemaking now.

Learn the Lesson of Downtown. Tallahassee once had a vibrant downtown. What happened? With the rationale of growth and economic development, we knocked down businesses and houses to create room for state offices and the new capitol. Soon, most of the remaining businesses and homes were converted to lobbying firms and advocacy organizations offices. What we once knew as downtown was decimated for residents and visitors. It remains unclear whether we will ever recover a viable people-friendly downtown. When an area’s character goes, so do the people. Lesson: we shouldn’t erase the character of Frenchtown for short-term economic gain in the form of student housing.

The Way Forward. Frenchtown may be down, but it is not out. There’s an energy there to revive its history and culture and to express them in businesses, stores, art, and music that fit with Tallahassee today. While some of these ideals have been around for years, we, as a community, have short-changed Frenchtown repeatedly in its revitalization efforts. It’s time we work as true partners to bring out the best of Frenchtown so all of Tallahassee can benefit. That means:

  • Halt the sale of the Macomb St. parcel and bring together representatives of the city, Frenchtown, and development and financial interests to define a viable plan to develop the parcel.
  • Emphasize restoring Frenchtown’s historical and distinctive character with locally-owned and neighborhood-oriented stores and businesses along Macomb St.
  • Initiate a process to develop a district overlay to guide planning, business development, and home ownership throughout Frenchtown.

Jim, you’ve done great work in keeping the vision of Frenchtown alive. We hope the city is ready to partner with you to bring it to realization.

Sincerely,

  • Michael J. Brezin
  • Michael Bannister
  • Chris Caughran
  • Mary Kay Valconer
  • Bonnie Gaughan-Bailey
  • Melissa Jacoby
  • Donna Legare
  • Margie McInnes
  • Tom Schulte
  • Karen Weimer
  • Mario Taylor
  • Tom Vickers

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