New and Notable

St. Joe Company is spreading its mighty wings southwest of SouthWood.St. Joe Company Busy Making Plans — AgainFirst SouthWood. Now Southside.

By Jason Dehart

St. Joe Company is spreading its mighty wings southwest of SouthWood with an idea that would put a new, 1,625-acre, mixed-use residential and commercial development in an area close to Southside.

The company is in the early stages of arranging the various land-use entitlements such as zoning and permitting that are necessary before construction can even begin. The area in question is located between Woodville Highway and Tram Road.

“We are at the very, very start of the permitting process,” said Jerry Ray, St. Joe spokesman. “We are still seeking public input … there are meetings where we ask for input into an overall conceptualization for Southside. But since we started this, nothing has been approved.”

Introduced in April, the development’s concept calls for creating a mixed-use project that includes 2,800 residential units and approximately 1.15 million square feet of commercial space – which may include a new hospital.

“It might be another kind of health care center, but it definitely has health care as a use,” Ray said. “There are a number of directions it could go in. We have had discussions with (Tallahassee Memorial Hospital) but again, nothing is definite.”

Ray said one of the goals of this project is to provide a wide range of “attainable housing”

“There is a need in this community and others for people to find a choice in housing that’s attainable,” he said. “For teachers, state workers, college employees — those kinds of individuals. We’re listening to the market and we’re responding to it. One issue all across Northwest Florida is, even if housing is affordable, if it’s not attainable it does no good. It’s something that everybody has to get involved in. We are going to step forward with an approach that will make a contribution to this area.”

“We are working collaboratively with Tallahassee and Leon County officials on a development concept for Southside that includes a variety of single and multifamily residential product types,” said Britt Greene, president of St. Joe Towns & Resorts and St. Joe Commercial. “The commercial component of Southside will include a mixture of quality retail, restaurant and service-oriented uses, with an emphasis on activity-based uses to create a gathering place for residents.”

In March, St. Joe owned 835,000 acres in Florida. Much of this is in Northwest Florida, where the company owns 338,000 acres within 10 miles of the Gulf coast and 497,000 acres more located outside the 10-mile coastal perimeter. The company also owns about 48,000 acres in southwest Georgia.

Ray said that so far, the community’s response to the latest development idea has been favorable.

“The response has been excellent – our initial response from the community is there is a need and I would say it’s universally accepted that there is a need that can be addressed by this project,” he said.

Danfoss Turbocor Comes to Town

Do you know what an oil-free centrifugal compressor is, and what it’s used for? Chances are, there’s one inside your company’s heating and air-conditioning unit right now, and more than likely, Danfoss Turbocor manufactured it.

More importantly, this global, award-winning compressor manufacturing giant has found a new home on Tallahassee’s south side – specifically, in Innovation Park. Steel already is up at the company’s newest digs, and soon somebody will be making pretty good wages.

“They’ll create 200 jobs, and the range (of salaries) will be between $35,000 a year and $180,000 a year, with an average of $59,928,” said Brad Day, executive director of the Tallahassee-Leon County Economic Development Council. “They’re hiring right now . . . hiring many different levels.

“Most every building you go in today has one of these compressors, and we benefit from this product. So the market is huge,” Day said.

The company announced in January that it was moving its headquarters and manufacturing plant from Montreal, Canada, to Tallahassee. Officials said the new, 65,000-square-foot building will be complete this June.

“We are excited about this move and the potential it offers to both our company and to our customers,” said Joe Orosz, president of Danfoss Turbocor. “The Tallahassee plant’s production capacity potential of over 10,000 compressors per year … will allow us to meet rapidly growing production demands.”

Fairgrounds may be Developed

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, a longtime advocate of a stronger south side, may be getting his wish this summer – with a little help from the U.S. Congress.

Proctor wants to move the North Florida Fairgrounds from its current site on South Monroe Street to free up its 147 acres to build businesses that can invigorate the south side of town.

It’s likely the new fairgrounds would be located on some federally owned former forestland across Capital Circle Southwest from the Tallahassee Flea Market.

“It’s before Congress. We’re waiting on congressional approval (for the U.S. Forest Service) to sell the land,” Proctor said. “This land is no longer forest because it’s too close to an urban center now to be managed through control burns. That’s what makes it eligible for disposal.”

Proctor said approval may come this summer. But already he is dreaming about the possibilities a new commercial sector could have for the south side.

“All it needs is to be platted for a multipurpose use, including entertainment features, movies, a bowling alley, go-carts, patio eateries, a blues alley. There are boundless opportunities,” he said.

New School Offers Promise

One of the biggest construction projects going on right now on Tallahassee’s south side is the new Bond Elementary School, a $13-million school built on the site of the old Bond Elementary School on Saxon Street.

The old Bond Elementary, which educated generations of kids starting in the 1930s, was torn down to make room for the new, modern school, which will have a seating capacity of 650 students.

Once this new school is complete, students from Wesson Elementary School as well as the old Bond school will call it home. The Wesson facilities will be used in some other public capacity that hasn’t been fully determined yet, although it may become a satellite senior citizens’ center.

“The School Board and the city will try to swap some structures or land or something to bring another revitalizing piece of the puzzle . . . a senior citizens’ center on the south side,” said School Board Chairwoman Sheila Costigan.

But that’s not the only change the new school will bring to the south side.

“What we fully expect is that the new school will generate a significant amount of new construction – new residential construction as well as commercial – because we know that residential and commercial construction generally follows a new school,” Montford said. “And so we believe that the school district has played, and continues to play, a vital role in south-side revitalization.”

Country Club Seeks a Facelift

Tallahassee’s oldest golf course facility, Capital City Country Club, is looking to put on a fresh face by improving the 18-hole course and building a new clubhouse, tennis court and swimming pool. All of this would be paid for through the construction and sale of some 200 residential condominiums located on the property, but nothing is set in stone – yet.

CNL Real Estate & Development President Tim Edmond said the proposed plans call for a complete tee-to-green redesign to restore the historic course, nine holes of which were designed by famed golf course designer A.W. Tillinghast.

“This course is a rare jewel deserving special treatment,” Edmond said. “Tucked away in the center of a charming collection of differing home styles, yet only blocks away from our state capital, it is a classic example of one of our earliest in-town golf course neighborhoods.”

Since last fall, CNL has held meetings with community and neighborhood groups about the progress of this potential infill project. Some Myers Park residents have objected to the increased traffic new condos would generate in the nearby neighborhood. But if the CCCC Board gives the greenlight to the redevelopment, golfers could tee up on a new course as soon as 2008. The original facilities were built in 1958. 

Categories: Business Journal