Luxury hotel development in downtown Tallahassee, airport fee changes go ahead

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At the last regular meeting of the Tallahassee City Commission until September, local leaders approved some projects that are supposed to generate additional income and economic growth.

City commissioners paved the way for the appearance of two new luxury hotels in the city center and approved the purchase of new technology for collecting landing rights at the airport.

The commission voted 3-2 Wednesday in favor of selling approximately five acres of property along South Duval and South Bronough streets to hotel developer Valencia Group for $ 8 million. The property is currently occupied by two parking lots, two sand volleyball courts and a food truck parking lot.

The proponent has provided written assurances that it will undertake to carry out the project in two phases, as described in its proposal. The estimated completion times vary from a few years to several years.

“What’s on offer here certainly helps us realize our dream of an eighteen-hour downtown in Tallahassee,” Commissioner Curtis Richardson said. “This is something that we have worked on and that we have worked on for years. And this hotel development, I think, will help us in the city center.

City officials say Valencia Group offers slightly above market value for the property, currently valued at $ 7.7 – 7.8 million. The developer also promised that hotels would create 250 new jobs that pay more than minimum wage.

“To have an impact on poverty, you have to have a job. And you have to have jobs that are going to help pay salaries to uplift people, ”said Commissioner Diane Williams-Cox, who also voted to sell the property.

Commissioner Jeremy Matlow opposed this decision. But only because the hotel developer approached the city with an offer, instead of applying through a bidding process, he said.

“Whenever we have surplus land, the policy is to bid it competitively and get two assessments,” Matlow said. “It protects us. It protects our community to make sure they get the best value for the property and to make sure we have a fair and open process for everyone to apply.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, city commissioners also approved the purchase of an automated landing charge system for the airport. Aviation Director David Pollard said airport staff were unable to manually capture all non-commercial planes using its runways.

“What we are trying to do is take advantage of the technology that exists with this system which provides us with a complete turnkey service solution to enable us to capture the landing fees for all aircraft.”

Pollard says the new system is expected to generate around $ 1.4 million in additional revenue over the next five years. Cameras and weight sensors will capture more planes, he said. Commissioner Curtis Richardson voted by majority to adopt the new technology.

“There are definitely documented repairs and changes that need to be made at the airport,” said Richardson.

He added that the dollars needed to maintain the airport have to come from somewhere. “If it doesn’t come from the additional expense of people who can afford to fly planes to and from our airport, then it has to come from our general fund,” said Richardson. “And we are certainly not going to cut services to our citizens to take care of what has been identified as needs at our airport.”

City commissioner Jeremy Matlow said he couldn’t vote in favor of the measure because he didn’t want more pilots to have to pay landing fees. And he says the extra dollars weren’t particularly needed now.

“I think we’re in a transition period where we need to take our airport to the next level, but I don’t think we’re at a time where we need to charge extra fees.”

City commissioners also voted in favor of moving forward with the performing arts center proposed by TLH Arts in the Railroad Square Art District.


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