There are not too many places you can go in Tallahassee without seeing some sort of construction site or “coming soon” sign. Florida’s capital has more than 100 new development projects currently in the works.
This construction has been dominating the popular streets of Tallahassee for the past year with entities such as a signature development, apartments, grocery stores, eateries, and a movie theater are all projected to break ground in 2018 or spring of 2019. Most of these developments are expected to bring in more than $1 million dollars of revenue to the economy individually.
These entities locations are within the Midtown, Frenchtown, Collegetown, downtown, and North Tallahassee areas.
The only dilemma that some residents are questioning is that they are not seeing equal development on the south side of the city. In the summer of 2017, the southside area saw the closing of a Winn-Dixie and WalGreens, which both served as major food sources for Florida A&M University students and south side residents. These closures took many by surprise and caused a severe food desert.
“I’ve lived in this community for 20 years,” said Liza Stevens, a Tallahassee resident. “and going to those two stores for food and personal needs was always so convenient. It’s nothing like having a source for food nearby and I was sad to see them go.”
With these two major closings, less than a year ago, some were hopeful that the south side would see some perks of the current new development era, however, that is not the case. As of now, the Piggly Wiggly that sits on South Monroe street is the only grocery store that caters to the needs of those residents who walk or rely on public transportation to go to the grocery store.
“When I was a freshman at FAMU a couple years ago, I use to walk to that Walgreens every week for groceries and medicine when I was sick,” said Alfonso Cunningham Jr., a senior at the school. “I just feel bad that for those that may be in that same situation in the now don’t have that easy access like I did.”
According to a document written by Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce’ Executive Director Antonia Smith, Smith praises this Piggly Wiggly for picking up the neighborhoods lack of food source, but adds on that something else still must be done, “I urge city and county commissioners to work together on behalf of south side residents to ensure equity in business options in their neighborhoods like in other Tallahassee areas.”
Some officials have responded to this matter in order to make change within the community.
“Well, we have an airport that is on this side of town and around an airport there should come hotels, stores and eateries;” said Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, whose district includes the south city. “It’s an opportunity still waiting and maybe it’s in our future. But it is a major engine and it cannot be ignored.”