Performing arts centers, fighting pop-up parties and crime

The future of dueling performing arts center proposals in Tallahassee is at a crossroads.

The curators asked for an update on the status of at least two projects aimed at creating space for the local arts community during their annual retreat on Wednesday.

They zeroed in on a proposal from local philanthropists to incorporate one into the redevelopment of the Northwood Center, which will include the new headquarters of the Tallahassee Police Department, but the commissioners instead learned that the one being developed by TLH Arts could fall behind.

Commissioners heard from Deputy City Manager Wayne Tedder about difficulties getting the final details on TLH Arts’ plans to turn a Railroad Square building into a performing arts center.

Tedder said Jake Kiker’s communication with the TLH Arts Foundation had not produced enough information to finalize negotiations over the past three months.

In May, the commissioners approved $1.8 million in funding for the project in their capacity as a community redevelopment agency. Tedder said he hopes to bring the issue to the ARC board at its next meeting.

“Either we have to go ahead or we have to stop the negotiations,” Tedder told the commissioners. “At the next meeting of the ARC Board of Directors, you will have an item and a decision to make.


Funding for the project hit a snag earlier this year when the fate of tax money seemed uncertain because TLH Arts’ original location failed and other arts groups began jockeying for funding. .

In February, the ARC voted to divert funds only to LeMoyne Arts and Ashmore’s because TLH Arts had become mired in a rental issue at another building on Van Buren Street it wanted for the project.

TLH Arts had time to revamp the scope of their project and a building in Railroad Square was donated by owners Adam and Lily Kaye. As part of the agreement with the CRA, the building must become the property of the City.

Jake Kiker

Kiker told the Democrat that the donation agreement for the building is still being worked on, but other agreements with the ARC, which included timed benchmarks, have been finalized.

“The biggest outstanding issue is the donation agreement, and that’s the heist right now,” Kiker said. “At this stage, we have not abandoned the project. We are still actively working with the city. You have private parties and donations, and it is a little more complicated.”

Commissioner Curtis Richardson said he hoped, after reworking the funding proposal, that TLH Arts would go further.

“I’m disappointed that we are where we are with this proposal from TLH Arts, or where we are not,” he said. “Unless they come back with something really powerful by the next ARC meeting, I don’t know if I’ll be inclined to support going forward.”

Commissioner Curtis Richardson holds a red carnation in his hands which he will lay near a headstone in Old Town Cemetery during an Emancipation Day commemoration hosted by the John G. Riley Museum on Thursday, 20 May 2021.

Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox, who helped lead the funding source for Ashmore’s Pharmacy project through the Tallahassee City Commission, agreed. Williams-Cox was the only one to vote against awarding funding to TLH Arts in May.

“At some point we have to try or not and put taxpayers’ money back into circulation for another community project,” she said.

At the city commission meeting on February 16, an agenda item is scheduled to consider a $5 million proposal by Mike and Judy Sheridan to build an alternative performing arts center.

City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox speaks at an event to reveal Bethel Missionary Baptist Church's new Mobile Medical Unit at the church on Monday, May 10, 2021.

The idea was floated during the commissioners’ discussion at the Dec. 8 meeting when Mayor John Dailey received unanimous support to direct city staff to gather more information and present a point to the agenda.


A meeting on January 20 is scheduled to gather community input on the future of the Northwood Centre.

“This is an opportunity to hear from the community about a performing arts center and other uses and site plans,” Tedder said.

Ephemeral evenings and new sound ordinance

Tallahassee Police Department Deputy Chief Maurice Holmes said a new sound ordinance, which gives officers the power to address loud gatherings in parking lots, is in the works and badly needed.

Holmes said the TPD, which once partnered with other local law enforcement agencies but now works alone to crack down on late-night mobs, spent 66 weeks and more than $266,000 in s attending to what have been seen as “pop-up parties” in the community for the past two years. .

Continued:Hundreds at scene, few leads: TPD asks for community help after filming at parking lot party

Tallahassee police block a street after an overnight shooting in the Half Time Liquors parking lot left three people injured.

The app started in 2020 when a man was shot and killed during one such party at a gas station on Orange Avenue and Springhill Road. The crowd prevented officers from offering medical assistance to the victim and apprehending a suspect.

Gatherings often play music, draw crowds in the hundreds, and have been the scene of shootings and homicides. Since the fall of 2021, the team of eight TPD officers has been working without help to stem the parties.

Eight locations have been listed as common gathering places where TPD is concentrated: the 1900, 2600, and 2200 blocks of West Tennessee Street, the 2100 block of W. Pensacola Street, the corner of Gaines Street and Railroad Avenue, the parking lot at the corner of Apalachee Parkway and Magnolia Drive and the 2600 block of North Monroe Street.


Holmes said the police department is developing a noise ordinance that allows officers discretion when addressing parties. Under the current order, officers have little power to write citations or possibly make arrests for noncompliance.

Continued:To quell crowds, TPD seeks to change Tallahassee noise ordinance

“We need this. The prescription has no teeth,” Holmes told the commissioners. “Right now we can tell them to turn that music down and they can tell us to pound sand.”

The reworked ordinance is being reviewed by the city attorney’s office before being submitted to the Commission for a vote.

Mayor John Dailey has offered to bring in additional law enforcement to join the TPD in its efforts.

Mayor John Dailey listens to a speaker during an ARC meeting at City Hall Thursday, September 9, 2021.

“Do we need to create a task force and bring in the assistance of state law enforcement?” He asked. “It’s a serious problem.”

Neighborhoods, programming helps make gains on crime

Addressing crime further, commissioners received a detailed report on the neighborhood’s public safety initiative, which seeks input from residents across the city on how best to address issues on their streets.

In total, more than $18 million in funding has gone into developing plans in the Greater Bond, Griffin Heights and Frenchtown neighborhoods and work is underway to secure programs in Providence and South City.

This money should go, in part, to improving parks, community centers, addressing transportation issues and housing to help build neighborhood pride and expand resources.

Additionally, Neighborhood Watch programs have grown steadily across the city since 2017 to 45 last year.


The city’s TEMPO program, (Tallahassee Engaged in Meaningful Productivity for Opportunity) has had success since its launch in 2017. It’s a targeted effort at “disconnected youth” ages 16-24, who don’t are out of school or unemployed, to provide opportunities other than crime and a pathway to education and employment.

TEMPO Program Founder Kimball Thomas speaks during the TEMPO graduation ceremony at the Jack McLean Community Center on Thursday, June 24, 2021.

The program’s goal is to engage 30% of Tallahassee’s approximately 7,000 disconnected youth in the program. To date, 22% have passed through the doors of TEMPO.

The program connects participants to GED programs, higher education, and grants in hopes that they will gain gainful employment. Of the 1,600 enrollees, 110 graduates have gone on to graduate school, more than 130 have earned a GED and the program has a 0% recidivism rate, said director Kimball Thomas.

Contact Karl Etters at [email protected] or @KarlEtters on Twitter.

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