Local business owners petition to ‘Keep All Saints Odd’

Photo courtesy All Saints District
Petition by business owners to stop construction in the All Saints district.

Local business owners in the All Saints district, located at the intersection of Gaines Street and Railroad Square have started a petition to stop the city from constructing a grocery story and hotel in place of its main parking lot.

The petition, named “Keep All Saints Odd”, rolled out in late October and currently has 1,500 signatures. This increase in support for the movement has brought into question whether the area home to more than 70 local businesses is profitable enough to halt the construction.

City officials have been planning to revive Gaines Street for a number of years and say that the new development will give both citizens and tourist a place to shop, eat and enjoy the area.

All Saints District Association’s Vice President, Joe Berg who was a leader in starting the petition does not agree with this idea.

“All Saints is a place that means a lot to people, it’s where odd is cool.” Berg said to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“The sale is bad for small business local culture, cultural tourism and the attraction of new residents,” he added. “A lot of people depend on parking there.”

The city’s plan is to build a grocery store and a Hampton Inn hotel where a parking lot is currently located. Local business owners say this lot is the primary location for many customers to have access to the shops throughout the district.

The current lot holds 300 parking spaces to 42 local businesses, but is described by the city as under developed. Supporters of the petition say future plans to create a new parking garage to supplement the change will come long after the diminishing effects of the loss.

Daniella Delwick has been frequenting All Saints Café, located directly across the street from the lot, for more than 10 years and began working there a year ago.

“As a resident, I’ve been able to see the area grow over the years which has been good and bad.”

Delwick says the area started as a warehouse district and the development of coffee shops, small stores, and the popular art district Railroad Square has made it a more resident friendly community vibe.

“I wouldn’t mind if they were building something that would be beneficial to the local residents and business owners rather than big business like a hotel.”

The District Association also has 31 festivals planned for 2016 which they say will draw in an estimated 100,000 unique customers which is double the number that was held in 2015.

Camille Smith, a fourth-year business administration student at FAMU said that she doesn’t see how another hotel is needed in the area.

“Gaines Street is a congested area as is and there is already a large hotel in the area” says Smith referring to the Residence Inn located in the district.

“I definitely will sign the petition because I believe the area will benefit more for additional art galleries or restaurants for business owners. There are plenty of hotels in the city.”

The construction is scheduled to begin next year. The petition is available for signing along with updates and construction specifications at keepallsaintodd.com.