A Miraculous Recovery: Fervent prayers for Frenchtown developer
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
The text message was unexpected. The content was from Tony Brown, just three days removed from surgery after being shot in the head.
Brown’s call interrupted a meeting that Rev. R.B. Holmes was having concerning the Frenchtown Redevelopment Partners’ project.
“Pastor,” Brown wrote, “I’m out of surgery and my progress is going well.”
Holmes, like a lot of others who heard the news about him being hospitalized just a few days earlier, was taken aback.
“I cried and said, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ ” said Holmes, who heads up the Frenchtown project. “I was more interested in Tony the person and not Tony the developer.
“He and I have had conversations and he has encouraged me to keep the focus on the mission of revitalizing Frenchtown.”
Brown assured Holmes that he will be at a planned meeting in July with the Community Redevelopment Agency.
“I’m preparing for our meeting next month with the CRA, staff and commissioners,” Brown said in a later conversation. “I plan to attend this meeting. I believe with my whole heart that our vision will be the catalyst to transform Frenchtown.”
Shortly after the incident at his home, calls went out for prayers. Brown was grateful
“I am humbled, touched and blessed for the outpouring of prayers for me and my beloved family,” he said. “By the grace and favor of God I expect a full recovery.”
Brown, 58, was hired in February by the Partners to assist in a $78 million project on the 400 block of Tennessee Street.
One of Brown’s first text messages was to Keith Bowers, project manager for the developers.
Brown represented the Tallahassee group at a meeting two weeks ago with the Community Redevelopment Agency. He praised the effort of other partners, including property owners like Alexis McMillan.
“Prayer brings on miracles,” McMillan said after hearing of Brown’s recovery. “Mr. Brown is a man of integrity and high quality. We are excited to have him back on the team.”
Brown, owner of T. Brown Consulting Group, has an extensive understanding of the workings of a CRA. He is a former Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency director. His background also includes being nominated by former President George W. Bush in 2001 for a position in the US Treasury Department.
“Certainly he comes with an impressive background,” said City Commissioner Curtis Richardson who also sits on the CRA. “There is no question about that. I instantly was drawn to him the minute I met him. He was very knowledgeable.
“I think he brings a great deal of experience and expertise to the development team and I have no doubt that they will be successful.”
Before it was clear whether Brown would recover enough to be a part of next month’s meeting, Bowers said Brown had done enough work to prepare the partners to advance the project.
“Our focus is that Tony is in the best of health and making sure that people understand we are not going to be starting from scratch,” Bowers said. “We are prayerful that he will come back; hopefully with the same faculties he had prior to this incident.”
“He has done a lot of the leg work; a lot of the heavy lifting.”
That much was obvious when Brown presented an update on the project, a mix-use development. Brown said afterward that he was especially excited about a grocery store planned for the project.
“He had a plan and it was well-thought-out and he did an excellent job of presenting it,” Richardson said. “I like the way he is working with the other land owners and involving them in the process.
“That just spoke volumes in my mind about the kind of person that he is. He understood their concerns and took those concerns into consideration for the plan.”
In addition to Bethel, property owners in the area between Tennessee and Virginia streets are partnering on the project.
“I’ve been so impressed with the property owners to come together for their own future; their commitment to putting a project together that’s not just beneficial to them but beneficial to the community,” Brown said after his presentation to the CRA. “That’s one of the reasons I’m here.”
Brown’s partner Donald Gray was ecstatic about the progress of his recovery.
“He is working at home moving this project forward,” said Gray, architect for the project. “We will succeed because of Tony’s compassion, competence, courage and commitment to get this Frenchtown initiative to the finish line.”