New and Notable

A look at what’s taking shape on Gaines Street
The Arts and LeisureA new hotel takes shape on Gaines Street, while a grand performing arts center waits in the wings

By Jason Dehart 

{mosimage}It’s no longer a dream on a sheet of paper. The new, 130-room Marriott Residence Inn is taking shape at the corner of Gaines Street and Railroad Avenue, and is considered the most obvious symbol of things to come on the revitalized corridor.

“That’s the biggest thing,” said Craig Diamond, special projects manager and Gaines Street coordinator. “You cannot miss it. But in terms of visibility, that’s all that’s there (on Gaines Street proper).”

Plans for the new hotel call for 5,000 square feet of meeting space and 5,000 square feet of retail space. The Marriott Web site says the extended-stay hotel is supposed to open this December and describes the hotel as having “spacious suites with full kitchen and separate areas for sleeping, working, eating and relaxing.”

Performing Arts Center

Paula Smith said she gets excited thinking about the opening night at Tallahassee’s new performing arts center. Lately she’s been imagining the concerts, plays and rehearsals that will take place there – in 2013.

Yes, the new facility still is just a dream, but Smith – chairwoman of the Performing Arts Center Committee and vice chairwoman of the Cultural Resources Commission Board – already has a good idea of what the multimillion-dollar facility is going to be like.

“It will hold two theaters under one roof – an estimated 2,200-seat theater and a 700-seat, multipurpose theater,” she said. “It will take up the whole Johns Building site.”

There actually are two city-owned state office buildings on the site where Smith anticipates the hall will be located. One is the Johns Building, which houses the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and the other is the Clemons Building. The site is bordered by Gaines Street to the south, Duval Street to the east, Bronough Street to the west and Madison Street to the north.

“It’s right in the heart of the Gaines Street improvements,” Smith said. “It’s a terrific site because it’s south of the west plaza of the Capitol building. It offers incredible visibility when you drive on Duval Street or Monroe Street; you can see it from City Hall. It will also be the Capital City’s cultural corridor, because Duval Street starts at the Governor’s Mansion, runs south to the Challenger Center, then to the Brogan Museum. The performing arts center site is the start of the Gaines Street corridor and connects downtown with Gaines Street.”

Like the Gaines Street revitalization plan, the new performing arts center won’t happen overnight – and it’s going to be slightly more expensive, too. Construction of the new facility is expected to cost $100 million and it will be one of the largest public venues built in Tallahassee since the Civic Center was completed 26 years ago.

“It’s an expensive undertaking,” Smith said. “They are very complex buildings to build. You have to consider acoustics, space, lighting, etc., and they have to accommodate diverse needs. But performing arts centers are incredibly busy places. Some are busy 300 nights a year, and they can generate a lot of economic activity. They do incredible things for adjacent areas.”

Categories: Business Journal