TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A pizza bar, fusion cuisine and a distillery are just a few of the business concepts planned for the SoMo Walls development on Tallahassee’s South Side.
While business names and owners have not been made public, it’s a good sign that progress is being made. From the groundbreaking in April of 2022, to the foundations going in right now, work is moving along at the SoMo Walls site in Tallahassee.
“I have always seen a potential,” said developer, Bugra Demirel. “I was an international student in town. I came to Tallahassee around 2005. I was a student. I have always been part of this community.”
He is working to lift up that community by eventually adding dining, retail and art space on the land just steps away from Cascades Park. Right now, they’re working to overcome a few challenges. Inflation is one of them.
“We have seen minimum of 15 to 20 percent cost increase across the board,” Demirel said. He added that weather is also a factor in keeping the project on time.
“When it rains it spreads things out with erosion,” Demirel explained. “We have to gather it back up and put our frames together. It was a little bit challenging, especially installing sewer connections and underground stormwater connections.”
Demirel also said delays with electrical components are a big deal along with HVAC for heating and air conditioning. That’s not deterring one of the businesses confirmed for expansion here. Burn Boot Camp plans to open up shop eventually.
“We actually were getting ready to expand in 2020 right before the pandemic hit. Took a step back and decided to regroup,” explained Becky Patterson. She already owns a gym in Northeast Tallahassee.
After getting through some of the toughest times of the pandemic, she set her sights on growing the business. That’s when she came across the SoMo Walls project.
“The renderings, the murals and the layout, the size: that really was ideal for what our situation was,” Patterson said.
Once construction is complete, she said the new gym will add jobs to the south side.
“It’s exciting for me to bring more jobs into the south side. We’re probably going to double our staff from here,” Patterson added.
She said they’ll go from the 15 staff members they have now to 30 part-time and full-time jobs. Patterson said that move fits in with a bigger mission to include minority-owned and female-owned businesses here. “You know, I was really impressed that they actually even set a goal percentage of female business owners within the space.”
That’s an idea Demirel says he’s all in on. “We have adopted at 35 percent minority inclusion goal in this project making sure that we are hiring local contractors and the money that’s being spent on this project is being spent locally,” Demirel explained.
He added they have as many as three minority-owned businesses already lined up to set up shop here. Construction is expected to wrap up between February and March of 2023.