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Developer seeks approval for new downtown condos

Another out-of-state developer has targeted downtown Tallahassee for the site of a new condominium project.

ADAR Developer Group, from South Florida, is in the final stages of getting approval for a $20 million, 80-unit condo development near the Florida State University music school.

The 10-story building, Symphony Project, will also have a bottom floor for retail and restaurant space. The developers said they have had their eyes on downtown for two years, monitoring the city's growth and economic development plans.

The group is also working on a second, even larger mixed-use development, about a half-mile away from the Symphony Project. Mayor John Marks believes this new development, along with several projects already underway, shows that the city is being noticed for its potential evolution as a prime location to settle down for professionals.

For the full story, read tomorrow's Tallahassee Democrat.

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Symphony condos eye downtown

New housing proposal fifth for vicinity

By Todd Wright


How long does it take to go from zero to five?

For downtown Tallahassee, apparently just two years.

A South Florida developer is in the final stages of getting approval for Symphony Condominiums, the fifth condominium project proposed to be built near downtown in the past two years.

The $20 million project will continue the trend of the four other condos planned for downtown, incorporating a floor for stores and restaurants and targeting professionals who work downtown or at one of the universities.

"We've been looking at the Tallahassee market for well over two years. We felt the city has got to the point in its maturity that we can offer something like this and it will be supported by a good professional market that wants to live in downtown," said Guy Poux, vice president of development for ADAR Developer Group. "Tallahassee fits the bill for our market and we are very excited about this project."

The City Commission will get a first glimpse at plans Tuesday at a public hearing on adjusting zoning requirements to allow the project.

Symphony will be located on Copeland Street, across the street from Florida State University's music buildings and just blocks from downtown, fitting the profile of several other ADAR projects. The group has built condo projects in Athens, Ga., near the University of Georgia and in Tampa, between the University of South Florida and downtown.

Poux said the 80 two-bedroom units would sell for $200,000 to $300,000 per unit and each would include a terrace, either with a view of FSU's campus or downtown. Two levels of parking would be located underground.

The 10-story building will join a skyline that is soon to include condo projects the Tennyson, Tallahassee Center, Kleman Towers and a condominium complex at the Civic Center. Poux said the project could break ground as early as next spring. He also hinted that the group was in negotiations to create another mixed-use development near Symphony.

The influx of condo units pleases Mayor John Marks, who has been a strong advocate for building housing downtown. Currently, the city has virtually no downtown housing options.

"It shows that Tallahassee is becoming what we want it to be, a desirable place for new growth and development. It all starts with having enough housing downtown," he said. "People are beginning to realize how wonderful this community is and want to invest in it."

Cherie Bryant, land-use planning division manager in the Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Department, said Symphony's plans have already been recommended for approval by the city's development review committee and planning commission. Barring hang-ups with the commission Tuesday, the project is ready to begin the permitting process.

Neither Poux nor city officials would comment on whether the project would be fast-tracked through the permitting process, as many priority projects are, but Poux did say that the two sides had a "common understanding" that could speed the project along. He anticipated it would take about a year to construct the building, putting the opening date in early 2006.

The group is also eyeing another piece of land for an even larger development about a half-mile from the Symphony project. It, too, would mix commercial and residential housing, but would have about 45,000 square feet of retail space. He declined to name the specific location.

Poux said the city's redevelopment plans and dedication to a performing-arts venue should be enough to attract any developer.

"There is an awareness and recognition that the city needs to have housing available for professionals living in that area," Poux said. "We feel that Tallahassee is as strong as any small-city market in the state of Florida. All of the dynamics are here right in the core of the downtown historic area."

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Another condo project planned near downtown

Tallahassee is going condo crazy.

The ADAR group, a Miami-based real-estate firm, has submitted plans for another condominium project near downtown, its second such announcement in the past month.

The newest development, called The Village, will be located near Florida State's campus, around the corner from the firm's other recently approved condo project, The Symphony. While city officials have been encouraged by the interest, FSU officials were livid after the city cleared the way for The Symphony project last month.

For more on this story, read tomorrow's Tallahassee Democrat.

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More condos on the horizon

FSU worries projects will stifle its growth

By Todd Wright


People shopping for condominiums in Tallahassee suddenly have another option - one that, again, does not please landlocked Florida State University.

Thursday, the ADAR Developer Group submitted preliminary plans for The Village, which would include 147 condo units and 40,000 square feet of retail space. The project would be on the southwest corner of Call and Macomb streets, across from the School of Fine Arts.

That's a few blocks away from the site of The Symphony, another condominium development proposed for property across from Florida State's campus. It, too, is a project by ADAR, a Miami-based real-estate firm.

The Village is the sixth condo project that has been scheduled to come into or near downtown in the past two years. That translates into more than 700 new units.

But before what developers call the "hungry market" can pore over the new options, FSU officials are hoping city commissioners will scale back the feast.

"I am becoming concerned that we are taking property that has long been in the campus master plan for university development and infiltrating it with a lot of condos that seemingly have little relationship to the future of FSU," said John Carnaghi, university vice president for finance and administration. "We are landlocked as it is. You have to start asking: Where is FSU going to grow?"

Florida State officials have argued that developments so close to campus take away land the university desperately needs to accommodate its growing student population. FSU has one of the smallest campuses in the 11-university state system, with a little more than 460 acres for more than 38,000 students.

City commissioners were not persuaded by FSU's argument in November and approved rezoning for The Symphony, which would be built across from the FSU School of Music. Carnaghi fears similar approval for The Village.

Cherie Bryant, division manager for land-use planning in the Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Department, said the project still needs approval from the Planning Commission and City Commission. Both groups are expected to vote on it in January. With their blessing, construction could begin in the spring.

Barry Poole - vice president of Poole Engineering and Surveying Inc., ADAR's local coordinator for both projects - said ADAR is working with FSU to make sure the buildings fit with the campus.

Like The Symphony, The Village would most likely be marketed to FSU faculty and people who work downtown. One major difference is that The Village is designed to have four buildings - an eight-story condominium tower and three four-story buildings with a mix of residential and retail - whereas The Symphony is a single, 10-story building with a retail plaza on the bottom floor.

Plans for The Village call for three levels of underground parking. Poole said it also would have an open-air courtyard.

"This could be a vital link between FSU and downtown and a link for cultural resources between the Fine Arts Building and the future performing-arts center," he said. "We will continue to make every effort to coordinate and work with FSU to address their concerns, but we feel that this is going to be an extremely positive asset for the university and the community."

Carnaghi, who received the conceptual plans Wednesday, said the city may be sending mixed signals to both developers and the university by endorsing campus growth and promoting condominium developments.

According to the FSU Master Plan, which is approved by the city, the university is expected to grow as far east as Macomb. Carnaghi said FSU will present an update to the plan early next year but doesn't expect growth plans to change.

With recent private-developer interest in the area, they might have to.

"We have seen two of these in the last month. This is becoming a trend," Carnaghi said. "It just perplexes me to try and understand why we seem to be focusing in on properties so near to the university. Are we now competing with the interest of the city?

"Apparently, we need to be more astute convincing commissioners that the university is being hemmed in."

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Posted on Fri, Jan. 14, 2005

FSU Board of Trustees votes yes on chiropractic college


[email protected]

TALLAHASSEE - Florida State University's Board of Trustees voted 11-2 today to move ahead with a controversial chiropractic college proposal and to send the measure to the Florida Board of Governors, the statewide panel that oversees public universities.

There is speculation that the Board of Governors will kill the proposal. A chiropractic college would make FSU the first public university in the nation to offer a doctorate in chiropractic.

But many of the trustees made it clear that even if the Board of Governors approve it, the program would be investigated and reviewed further by the university faculty before it would be actually happen.

The vote followed a lengthy discussion about whether the chiropractic program would harm the image of FSU and its fledgling medical school. Several trustees said they did not feel qualified to answer the question on whether chiropractic is appropriate for a major research university to teach.

FSU Board of Trustees chairman John Thrasher made it clear that he did not consider the vote a final decision on the fate of the college.

''I'm not voting to approve a chiropractic college,'' said Thrasher. ``Before we go through an extensive amount of time and energy and work among our faculty and students, we ought to ask them to proceed whether we can investigate it further.''

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Posted on Fri, Jan. 28, 2005


Chiropractic college killed

Flexing its muscles, Florida's Board of Governors rebuffed the state Legislature and killed a proposed chiropractic school that lawmakers said last year should go to Florida State University.


[email protected]

GAINESVILLE - In the end, the money didn't matter, and neither did a state law nor the potential wrath of state legislators.

Florida's Board of Governors, the panel pushed into existence by former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham to watch over Florida's public universities, voted Thursday to kill a proposal to set up the nation's first chiropractic college at a public university.

The panel shot down the college even though the Florida Legislature had authorized its creation a year ago in a state law and guaranteed Florida State University $9 million annually to operate it. Earlier this month, FSU's own trustees had asked for more time to let their own faculty review the merits of the college.

But by an overwhelming margin, the Board of Governors rejected the idea, questioning the need for the program and whether it fit into FSU's mission to become a nationally recognized research university. They also pointed fingers at FSU's trustees, chiding them for not taking a stronger vote in favor of the school two weeks ago.

The Board of Governors vote Thursday was 10-3. Chairwoman Carolyn Roberts, who said she opposed the school as well, did not cast a vote.

''I am not convinced there is a need for the program,'' said board member Rolland Heiser, a retired Army general from Sarasota. ``I think there are more pressing needs in the state university system, considering our limited resources. I intend to vote my conscience.''

That's exactly what Gov. Jeb Bush, who appointed most of the board's members, urged them to do a week ago. Board member and state Education Commissioner John Winn, once a top aide to Bush, also voted against the chiropractic college.

''The one thing we all agreed on was they had not established a need for it,'' Winn said.

The governor's apparent defection -- he had once been a supporter of the chiropractic school -- drew the ire of Sen. Jim King, the Jacksonville Republican and former Senate president. He and Sen. Dennis Jones, a chiropractor and Pinellas County Republican, were instrumental in obtaining the money for the college.

Sounding bitter, King said Thursday that he agreed to hold a special session in late 2003 and spend more than $300 million to lure the Scripps Research Institute to Palm Beach County -- a measure the governor avidly sought -- in exchange for a promise that the governor would support the chiropractic college.

''I'm disappointed in the governor,'' King said. 'I don't understand the governor's position. The governor shook my hand and drank my champagne and said, `Congratulations, a battle well won, but it's over now.' I said, 'Are you sure?' -- 'Oh, yeah, everything's fine.' ''


King said that Bush later retreated, saying he made his promise before the Board of Governors stepped in.

'So he stepped back and said, `Jim, I promised you this, but y'know, I never promised you the Board of Governors vote,' '' said King, who added that if Bush would have lobbied members they would have supported the college. ``It doesn't make me feel any better about the fact that I shook hands on $360 million worth of Scripps, you know, in an effort to make sure that everything was going smoothly, in exchange for which the chiropractic college was supposed to be a fait accompli.''

FSU's bid to open the chiropractic college, which would have offered a doctorate in chiropractic along with a master's degree in other areas, was moving along smoothly until November, when the Board of Governors demanded to review the proposal.

Initially, FSU officials and lawmakers were inclined to fight the board, saying the measure had been in the works for years. FSU officials relented, but between that time and Thursday's vote, the university's own faculty began to rise up against the proposal, stoked on by a small band of angry alumni. Many faculty members derided chiropractic as ''pseudoscience'' and openly expressed fears that a college for chiropractic would harm FSU's academic reputation. Chiropractors in turn accused medical doctors of professional bigotry and turf-guarding.

Ray Bellamy, the Tallahassee orthopedic surgeon and FSU alumnus who sparked the opposition, was openly jubilant at Thursday's vote.

''They voted their consciences. They did the right thing,'' Bellamy said.

Roberts, the board's chairwoman, insisted that the vote was not about whether or not chiropractic is legitimate, but whether there is a need for a public university to produce more chiropractors. A study put together for the board pointed out that Florida now has more chiropractors than the national average and that a new private chiropractic college recently opened near Daytona Beach.

By taking the vote, however, the board signaled a shift in how the state's universities are run. In the past, lawmakers were able to dictate programs such as new law schools and medical schools when the universities were under the old Board of Regents, a panel that the Legislature eventually abolished. But the new Board of Governors was created by a constitutional amendment and it has powers that can't be trumped by the Legislature.


FSU President T.K. Wetherell said that FSU would not defy the board and move ahead with the program, although he said he doesn't know how the Legislature will react or whether it will take back the money it guaranteed the university a year ago. The law says that FSU can use the money for other purposes until it is used for the chiropractic college.

Wetherell said he will ask for a meeting with Gov. Bush and legislative leaders to decide what to do next. Wetherell said he wasn't surprised by the vote, but he said he was ''frustrated'' by a process that squeezed the university between the Legislature and the Board of Governors.

Roberts said she has assurances from top legislative leaders that there will not be any repercussions to FSU or other universities by Thursday's vote.

House Speaker Allan Bense was surprised at the lopsided vote on the school.

''Wow,'' he said, when he heard the vote. ``Unless there's a different message from the Board of Governors, that's the end of the FSU chiropractic school.''

The Panama City Republican said legislators will review FSU's $9 million allocation and the budget committee will decide what to do. Meanwhile, he has assigned Rep. Dudley Goodlette to lead the review of the issues surrounding university governance.

''The chiropractic school was the flash point and that debate will continue,'' he said. ``Maybe the saga will continue.''

Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas and Marc Caputo contributed to this report.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was just channel surfing and I passed by a local Tallahassee station and sure enough it was the city commission meeting regarding the development of the condos adjacent to FSU's campus. This is such a tough debate because it's great for the city of Tally, but it is going to be such a shock for life at FSU. As a student of the university, I would hate to see a 10-story condo in this particular part of campus. The buildings and sorority houses in the surroundings are all low and relevant to historic architecture. The atmosphere is currently great because it combines the traditional brick architecture with the many surrounding trees and it's mostly laid back. If a giant condo (giant for the situation) is built here, traffic and population will significantly increase and an essential part of the campus will be forever lost. It's hard to let go of this, but it looks like urban sprawl is the fate of the city. What are your opinions?


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But building a condo in a walkable environment where you already have a lot of peopel walking is the opposite of sprawl. It's urban infill and exactly the type of developments we need to fight sprawl. I think they should created a high density avenue between the campus and downtown where people can walk to either one.

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I agree that it is smart that they are building in an area that already has a lot of people walking, but the estimated congestion is outrageous for this part of campus. A transportation planner stated that the estimated number of cars that will pass through this block in a day is equal to the number of cars throughout the entire university. Keep in mind this is a small road with sorority houses and most of the campus' most treasured buildings. In the long run it is best to expand the city by connecting downtown and campus, but I think that it's being rushed. They are completely changing a beautiful part of campus that FSU originally had plans to expand on. But of course FSU will have to make some sacrifices for the greater good of Tallahassee. These condos better be at least nice to look at.

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Here's two competing views on the projects from the Tallahassee Demecrat (keeping you informed!). I personally think that FSU is being typically nymbish. If this project is built right it'll only add to the area.


TK Wetherell - President of FSU.

While the university certainly does not oppose development, this particular kind of project clearly violates FSU's 20-year-old master plan, which has been agreed to by the city. It flies in the face of long-standing zoning in the area.

Rezoning for the proposed Symphony project means that 83 condominium units and 10,000 square feet of commercial space will be built directly across from the College of Music, on Copeland Street.

If rezoning is approved for this second project, The Village, it will consume an acre and a half on the same block, featuring up to 160 residential units and 40,000 square feet of commercial space. One of its four buildings would be more than 10 stories tall.

The population and traffic that would come with this massive development would severely impact adjoining properties and nearby streets and residents.


John Marks - Mayor of Tallahassee

While FSU voices concerns about traffic and people in the area as a result of the projects, these two projects clearly are not going to be the type of developments we're used to seeing on Tennessee Street. They are designed to promote urban living and development with wide sidewalks that encourage pedestrian activity. Both developments will feature retail on the lower levels with housing above, in the vein of what you find in other downtown areas.

They will help encourage a walkable downtown as opposed to one-story bars and drive-in restaurants. They represent a part of the vision for where our downtown is headed, as put forth in the Comprehensive Plan more than a decade ago.

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I'm glad to see urban development finally taking place in Tallahassee. During my time at FAMU (96'-01'), I could never understand why didn't have any urban development or a vibrant downtown, considering its in walking distance of two college campuses. Its also good to see that Kleman Plaza is finally meeting its potential. BTW, what's happened to the proposed hotel at the civi center? Is the proposal now dead?

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Hey everyone! I am currently in law school at FSU and it looks like I will be in Tallahassee after graduation. As a result I started paying more attention to local issues and the redevelopment of downtown is a big one. Plus, having grown up near some cities with good downtown areas it is especially interesting to me. Anyway, I am new to this board and thought I'd just post a few updates on what is happening.

Commission Permits Village Condo Project

With that development being permitted there are now a total of five downtown condominium projects:

1. Tallahassee Center/Gameday

2. Tennyson Condos

3. Plaza Tower

4. The Symphony

5. The Village

The photos posted by doofy10 actually show Tallahassee Center in the first one and Plaza Tower in the second. Also, they have broken ground on Tallahassee Center which is right across from the post office.

Anyway, it's good to see some growth downtown!

Edited by blackcoffee&bourbon
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Drastic cuts on way for FAMU

Facing a "grim" financial picture, the school's interim president announces a "moratorium on all spending."

By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer

Published March 17, 2005


By Friday, every employee at Florida A&M University will have to turn in his campus cell phone.

Anyone who wants to rent a car or buy an airplane ticket with the university's money will need the president's approval.

All athletic trips are off, too, unless the president approves them on a case-by-case basis.

Interim FAMU president Castell Bryant announced the unusual restrictions Wednesday - along with a broad moratorium on all new spending - in an effort to balance the school's books by summer.

"This is a dire measure," said FAMU trustee Barney Bishop, who learned about the new restrictions from a reporter. "But the financial circumstances we are in call for this type of action."

The finances at the historically black university have grown so bleak that Bryant has said it will be tough to avoid a significant deficit by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

She told trustees in February that the school's finances looked "grim" and "frightening." Records were so disorganized that auditors had trouble determining the extent of the problems.

The school acknowledged losing millions on campus housing, for example, but couldn't say if the loss was $1.7-million or $4-million. Outside auditors said the university appears to have spent at least $51.1-million more than it had budgeted.

That report led to Bryant's crackdown, which she announced Wednesday in a memo distributed to deans, department heads and other supervisors. The memo declares a "university-wide, across the board, moratorium on all spending," effective immediately.

Bryant said the move will ensure the university can continue its core mission of teaching students. She didn't say when the moratorium would be lifted or when the school might have a firmer handle on its finances.

"When I accepted this position, I knew that I would have to make difficult decisions," said Bryant, who replaced former president Fred Gainous in January. Gainous was fired by FAMU trustees who said he wasn't moving quickly enough to fix the problems.

University officials did not say how the moratorium would work or how the president would review hundreds of bills that she now must personally approve. According to her memo, Bryant would sign off on everything from a pharmacy professor's trip to a conference to money to buy research equipment.

Bryant also will review all grant requests for the university, which has about 13,000 students and 13 schools, including programs in law, pharmacy, business, engineering and architecture.

Bryant will make exceptions to the spending ban for items such as medicine, insurance, postage, laboratory supplies, toner-printing cartridges and copying paper.

She also will review exceptions for athletic and academic competitions, some student travel and essential university business trips. Some personnel will get cell phones, but for emergency purposes only.

E.T. York, the chancellor emeritus of Florida's university system, said he had never heard of such drastic actions at one of the state's public universities.

"But I haven't been familiar with any university that has had the problems that FAMU has had," York said.

The problems aren't new. In recent years, FAMU has been chastised for failing to track student loans and for filing financial reports months late. In 1997, adjunct professors went without pay for several weeks because the school overspent its $1-million adjunct faculty budget.

In 2000, federal authorities charged a financial aid officer with soliciting and accepting bribes from students in exchange for submitting fake records for extra aid.

In 2003, a grant administrator was fired after an internal inquiry uncovered questionable spending, including tens of thousands of dollars spent on trips for a former university president, who was then working as a consultant.

Physics professor Bill Tucker, who is president of the faculty union, compared Wednesday's spending moratorium to a parent who takes back her children's charge cards.

"She is trying to find out what the heck is going on ... and shut it down," Tucker said.

He said he thinks the move will mostly affect administrators and professors who conduct substantial research.

Financial mismanagement "already has hurt our reputation," said business professor Reginald Beal. "This is just additional oil on the fire."

David Karp can be reached at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8430, or [email protected]

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here are two pics of the progress on the Tallahassee Center/Gameday development I took while stopped at a red light on College Ave. There is also one of the site where the Plaza will be.

Pictures of Tallahassee Center/Gameday & The Plaza

They cleared the site for Tallahassee Center/Gameday about two weeks ago. This week they started building.

Regarding the Plaza, the sign was put up probably a month ago. I believe they will be building it in the location behind the sign and in front of the Brogan Museum... which is interesting since I think currently that area is a retention pond.

When I have some time I will walk around downtown and take some more photos. Also, a nice new trendy coffee shop called "Cool Grindz" just opened on Park Ave across from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Edited by blackcoffee&bourbon
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