The city of Tallahassee has sold 650 West Gaines St., a one-acre vacant lot located just west of the Marriot Hotel, for $4 million to the 908 Group, a Tampa-based student housing developer.
The Tallahassee City Commissioner approved the unsolicited sale in a 3-1 vote. Commissioner Jack Porter voted against the sale. Commissioner Jeremy Matlow recused himself due to a conflict of interest; he owns Gaines Street Pies directly across from 650 West Gaines St.
The city of Tallahassee purchased the lot for $1,4 million in 2016. Since then, the vacant lot has been used for public parking. Tallahassee’s Community Redevelopment Agency granted funds and approval to turn the dirt surface lot into a fully functional paved lot. However, once the city received the unsolicited offer, the plans halted.
Carrie Latham Poole, general manager of Oyster City Brewing Company next door to Gaines Street Pies, was not happy with the sale.
“As someone running a new business directly across the street from this land, who relies almost solely on this parking lot,” Poole said on Facebook. “The CRA was slated to pave it as a parking lot, at least that was our understanding when signing a five-year lease. This sale is very bad for us and the other businesses in our complex. Where are people supposed to park? Not to mention another student housing development is the last thing our community needs.”
Marques Cutler, a senior business administration major at Florida A&M University, believes selling the land was a bad idea due to a lack of public parking in the area.
“Tallahassee is overpopulated with student housing complexes, especially in CollegeTown,” Cutler said. “The lot was a convenient free public parking lot. In CollegeTown, it’s very hard to find parking due to parking being allocated to residents of student housing complexes. Businesses in CollegeTown besides student housing complexes will suffer now because of accessible parking.”
“I don’t support the sale due to parking, but I strongly believe the lot could have been sold to someone or a corporation with more impactful plans for the city. We don’t need another luxury apartment. We need something here to entertain and retain young professionals that graduate from FAMU and FSU,” Cutler added.
“I tend to agree with the business owners on this one, Fran Delloporta said on Facebook. “Without parking, they are dead in the water. They cannot depend on seasonal student business year-round. Parking is very important to me when choosing a place to dine or do business.”