Plans for renovation of Kleman Plaza underway

Kleman Plaza stakeholders spent most of their recent meeting reviewing plans to renovate Kleman Plaza.
Photo by Oldens Lafortune

By Oldens Lafortune

Outlook writer

Big changes are coming to Kleman Plaza. Potentially

Proposals for changes were presented at a meeting last Thursday morning with the intention of making Kleman Plaza more appealing and functional.

Some of the changes include adding retail stores, renovating a small park that fronts the plaza, installing a huge screen that could be used for the showing of movies and community events. Additionally, plans call for a crosswalk bridge that would connect City Hall to the plaza.

Planners are calling the vision “Creative Core.” The group included architects, members of the city of Tallahassee, the Downtown Improvement Authority, the Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee, and many other stakeholders.

“The idea of calling it the Creative Core kind of area pulls it away from the ownership of Kleman Plaza and it makes it something else,” said James Stark III, one of the architects. “It makes it more than just Kleman Plaza and that’s a great idea.”

The idea is the result of a conversation about finding ways to revamp the plaza. Architects like Maxim D. Nasab of Apex Architecture, LLC connected with stakeholders Stark and Scott and Balog, Executive Director for the Tallahassee Community College Center for Innovation. Others eventually joined the conversation as the idea grew.

Elizabeth Emmanuel, CEO of the DIA, encouraged the “Creative Core” vision.

“I think that having the proper infrastructure in place for downtown so that everybody can access it is a really good way to be better stewards of our community,” Emmanuel said. “Listening to what the business needed and what the residents here wanted, it was very clear that renovations in this plaza were going to help revolutionize the area in a way that such more meaningful for business development, for resident satisfaction and for public usage.”

Renovation for the Kleman Plaza seems inevitable for the near future though, as the city contracted Stark’s firm, HoyStarkHagan Architects to assess the parking structure of the plaza. The roots system and the weight of the tress in the area are jeopardizing the structural integrity of the garage and piercing into areas causing significant water damage, according to their findings.

Balog said the group of stakeholders are bringing a plan together that would change the narrative downtown and to develop a space that would allow more engagement, while being more functional, with the Kleman Plaza as the nucleus. 

“It’s the geographical center of our community,” Balog said. “You’ve got an amazing collection of resources there that we need to do a better job of leveraging.” 

As much as the group discussed in its third meeting, they hope to have more talks before seeking funding. When the planning phase is complete, the group will meet the Community Redevelopment Agency, DIA, and Kleman Plaza Design Review Board.

The next meeting furthering the idea of the Creative Core is set for Feb. 6 at TCC Center for Innovation.