Frenchtown, Southside Meet Needs Through Community Development

Frenchtown, Southside Meet Needs Through Community Development
Posted at 5:00 PM, May 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 07:33:04-04

The series "Building Tallahassee" continues taking a look at how different parts of the city are developing. Watch WTXL Thursday at 5:30pm.

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Frenchtown is getting a facelift. The historic neighborhood has plans to build up, tear down, and renovate.

"We go to the community, get input from stakeholders, from residents to find out what they want, and then we try to make it happen," said TJ Lewis, the founder of

The former shelter on Tennessee Street has been vacant after relocating in 2015. City officials are planning to demolish it, along with the neighboring community center.

"The removal of the shelter has been a big boon to the community," said Rick McCraw, the program director of Tallahassee's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). "They're very happy that the shelter has now moved to Pensacola Street, and they're looking to something positive on these properties."

But what will replace it? That's still unclear.

"If it turns out that mixed use housing and commercial opportunities and maybe even a grocery store is a marketable item for that area, then that is something that I think will be in the future," said assistant city manager Wayne Tedder.

Further into Frenchtown, plans are underway to add more housing. A five-story, 88-unit apartment complex called Casanas Village will set up on Macomb Street, between Brevard and Georgia.

"There's some hope that development activity can pick back up, now that the shelter has been relocated and some land has become available for redevelopment," Lewis said.

A different kind of housing is also being restored. The Tookes Hotel is investing more than a million dollars to renovate the property -- to pay homage to its history in the African-American community.

"Frenchtown was once a bustling community for African-Americans," said Ron McCoy, the grandson of founder Dorothy Tookes. "It's important to reserve the history, because so much of it is lost."

While construction is yet to get going in Frenchtown, it's already underway in the Southside.

FAMU Way continues to develop, after the first portion was unveiled in 2015. Now, the project will extend from Macomb street to Pinellas street by August 2016.

"Not only is it a great amenity for FAMU and our Southside, but it is also an economic driver that we think is going to be critically important for the success of the south side," Tedder said.

And access to the Southside will get easier once the pedestrian bridge is complete. The city broke ground on the Capital Cascades Crossing last June. Now, the project is well on its way to be completed by the summer.

"[It] really will begin to connect people from Leon High School all the way to St. Marks," Tedder said, "so it's going to be an incredible regional trail system for our community."

Aside from transportation, the Southside is seeing additions in food and healthcare.

A Piggly Wiggly supermarket is now open at the former Harvey's in the Southside Shopping Center.

And Big Bend Cares will add a medical facility across from its current site on Monroe and Magnolia. The project is scheduled to break ground at the end of June.

"We're going to try and do as much as we can for people who desperately need more help," said deputy director Charlie Adams.