City moves ahead to finalize Northwood Centre purchase
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
While the City of Tallahassee works on narrowing a list of recommended sites for a new Tallahassee Police Department headquarters, it also is expected to finalize its purchase of the Northwood Centre before the end of May.
Closing on the 34.51-acre property should be completed by May 20, City Manager Reese Goad told city commissioners at their meeting last Wednesday. Earlier this month, the city landed the rights to the property with its winning bid of $6.8 million.
One of the next immediate step after the closing is to complete a walk-though and hire a property manager, Goad told commissioners. However, he said none of the existing businesses on the site will become tenants of the city’s until the signing is completed.
That will be followed by negotiations with several tenants that include some that aren’t continuous on the portion where the old mall currently houses a handful of state offices. Combined rent will bring $1 million annually to the city’s coffers, Goad said.
Most of the businesses are on month-to-month or leases that will expire soon. The longest lease is with the Office of Economical Vitality, Goad said.
“We will move quickly to address the immediate needs of being the property owner,” Goad said. “We anticipate using a property manager for those functions as we look into more long-term leases.”
Meanwhile, commissioners also addressed finding a site for building a new Tallahassee Police Department headquarters. During the last month, a request for public recommendations resulted in a list of 68 sites. Of that, 51 of them met a required nine acres, with 23 within a two-mile radius of the city center near North Monroe and Tennessee streets.
Assistant city manager Wayne Tedder told the commission that the list will with narrowed to the top 10 suitable sites, then whittle down to five for final consideration.
While the commission approved the recommendation, Commissioner Jeremy Matlow said he would prefer if the body considered a final list of more than five.
“We have done this community-wide search and we just want to make sure that in the process we are not eliminating something that the community really wants to be one of the sites,” Matlow said. “If we narrow it down to 10 I believe we are going to get the one that people are excited about.”
Regardless how many sites make the cut, Tedder told commissioner that residents near the areas will be asked for input. Doing so, hiring a contractor and the building process could take as long as two years before a new headquarter completed, Tedder said during his update on the TPD site search.
Ironically, the Northwood property was the most popular of those recommended for TPD’s new headquarters. However, Mayor John Dailey said now that the city owns the property there is no guarantee that TPD will relocate there.
“It’s not the leading place according to the commissioner,” Dailey said. “It’s the leading recommended site according to the public. Number two; we have a complete policy and procedure in place on how we are moving forward with the redevelopment of the Northwood Centre.
“As it was displayed tonight, it could take anywhere from three and a half to four years with both private involvement; getting experts to help us, and tons of public involvement.”
Dailey was more upbeat about other uses for the Northwood property. Before the city made its success bid, he suggested several use for the property, including low-income or workforce housing.
“What’s exciting about the Northwood Centre is that it has so much potential in so many different arenas,” he said. “It could be the police station but it’s not a slam dunk.”