Tallahassee City Commission Discusses Performing Arts Center Project at Northwood Mall Location (2022)

By Lynsey Kirk on 18 Comments

Tallahassee City Commission Discusses Performing Arts Center Project at Northwood Mall Location (1)

In August, the City of Tallahassee began demolition of the Northwood Centre which was purchased by the city in 2019 for $6.8 million. The land will eventually be home to the Tallahassee Police Department and possibly a new performing arts center.

During the December 14th City Commissioner meeting, Mayor John Dailey motioned to have an item brought back for the next January meeting to further discuss the possibility of a performing art center.

“I think we have an amazing opportunity,” Dailey said. “I think it’s a prime time for us to kick off the new year and have this conversation,” to discuss how the development of the Northwood Centre will look.

The art center is a proposal by the Michael H. and Judy W. Sheridan Center for the Arts Foundation. According to media reports, the proposal calls for a public-private partnership where the city donates 5-acres of the 29.5-acre Northwood Centre and in exchange, the foundation will cover the construction and operating costs.

The Sheridan’s vision is a roughly 450 seat auditorium, nothing like the large 1,800 seat theaters that the city has rejected in the past. Instead, this theater would potentially house a black box performance area to accommodate 150 seats, a stage, and multi-use room with a catering kitchen for rehearsals or banquets. The projects estimated cost is around $8 million.

“I’m not sure if now is the time to make commitments or to bring back items dealing with just that parcel or that concept,” Commissioner Curtis Richardson said. “I would like to have a more general conversation about the site itself and what we are going to do in terms of housing and commercial development,” instead of solely focusing on a performing arts center.

However, the motion eventually passed unanimously, with hesitation to make any formal commitments to the project. Though Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox mentioned, there is a sense of urgency involving the project due to health issues relating to Sheridan.

“I think we need to be fair, and we need to realize his sense of urgency,” said Williams-Cox. “We need to begin the conversation because nothing is going to happen until we begin the conversation.”

Tallahassee City Commission Discusses Performing Arts Center Project at Northwood Mall Location (4)

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18 Responses to "Tallahassee City Commission Discusses Performing Arts Center Project at Northwood Mall Location"

  1. You are some truly heartless people. After all we have gone through with Covid to act like theatre which is community is not important. Shame on all of you not to know the importance of communication. Greeks did. Not political for the Sheridans. Just heart.

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  2. If the Sheridan family is kind of locked in with the woke local politicians at this point and reluctant to end their team up with the politicians maybe they may see the wisdom in having a frank discussion regarding their legacy options with another local individual in much the same life situation. Devoe Moore has likely already planned an individual legacy to benifit our great communitty and most likely would welcome a frank discussion with the Sheridan family regarding legacy options.

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  3. It looks like at this point in their lives that the good hearted Sheridan family is looking for a legacy project to carry on their good name and good will in the communitty they love along with their love of the arts. Kudos to the Sheridan family.
    Unfortunately the Sheridan family has teamed up with some of the lowest self serving politicians in Florida who will surely sully the Sheridan name and legacy in the process. Local political history proves what I said to be an accurate prediction of what the near and long term future holds for a Sheridan/local self serving politicians team.
    I agree with Hope’s summation of the situation and hope the Sheridan family take another look at teaming up with local self serving politicians. And get some professional advice from an estate planner attorney regarding their legacy options.
    As Hope suggested a large donation to Tallahassee Little Theater or perhaps the Railroad Square arts existing project may make 100% more sense rather than teaming up with these questionable woke local politicians. Sheridan family thank you for being an honorable upstanding member of our communitty and please consider a more honorable legacy rather than teaming up with our toxic local politicians.

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  4. The mayor doesn’t do anything without first asking himself, “What’s in it for me?”

    Anyone who may have watched him when he was part of the “Laurel & Hardy” act of Dailey and Desloge on the County Commission would have seen that he’s an individual of questionable character.

    I, like many, applaud the Sheridan’s generous offer. However, I caution them to avoid being used by the likes of the mayor. It would be ashamed if their good name was associated with another city-involved boondoggle.

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  5. I hope that the mayor’s clique of high donors and his operatives are not exploiting the Sheridan’s for his re-election campaign.

    A wonderful example of philanthropy and hope the Sheridan’s are offering deserves an above board review and the mayor and his political operatives, Curtis Richardson and Diane Williams Cox, cannot offer this.

    We saw an example of their horrendous behavior when they were manipulating the filling the vacant seat left by Scott Maddox. Their political manipulations that produced Elaine Bryant. How did that work out for us?

    Plus, I don’t know where the mayor will find the time to focus on this as he is much too busy orchestrating his little coup with David Bellamy to oust his nemesis, Matlow.

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  6. We already have a well established multi-event theatre company in Theatre Talkahassee (https://theatretallahassee.org)- FKA Tallahassee Little Theater. Also, Young Actors studio is just around the corner. Apparently, CONA, as I undrstand supports both. Why aren’t the Sheridans supporting one or both long-term successful organizations who, probably, would relish more of a financial base of support, especially, increasing their physical sizes?

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  7. Offering due props and respect where due, and… a reasonable discussion with good points shared by all. Information is power; Get informed here!

    Major kudos to the TR blog thread and all participants. I appreciate becoming better informed about any given issue impacting my life.

    (insert thumbs up here)

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  8. Mrs. Sheridan, I certainly believe you believe what you saying and have every good intention. I do not doubt you or your husband for a single second. What I doubt is local government’s ability to do anything of this nature in a fiscally responsible manner.

    What happens if one day it’s discovered that the money simply runs out, or the private partners withdraw? (Look what has happened with the Kearney Center master plan)

    Keeping in mind there are several different types of structured public-private partnership models, the proverbial devil squarely exists in the details. Mostly, short and intermediate loan funding is based on the backing of the public sector partner. Fiscal liability lays square on the public partner, not the private partner(s).

    I honestly do not believe a 450 seat facility can be made profitable, and thereby self-sustaining.

    Is the foundation able and willing to show ten’s of millions of dollars in endowed funds, while signing a life-long partnership agreement indemnifying all Leon County and City of Tallahassee tax payers?

    And let me ask this question. Both the Tallahassee Mall and the Governor’s Square Mall have remote land parcels and declined structures available. There is a brand new Target in Bradfordville now sitting vacant. Why aren’t these locations and developers like the Ghazvini’s partnering to provide a solution? Why City of Tallahassee tax dollars and not these other private entities?

    Again Mrs. Sheridan, I have nothing but respect for you and your husband. I simply do not agree with your vision. I believe it leads only to greater financial obligations to taxpayers long-term.

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  9. With all due respect to Mrs. Sheridan; you make a good argument, the problem is, I don’t trust anyone on the city commission or the mayor or any of his cadre. So I don’t want them giving away the taxpayer’s land. They made a good argument for Blueprint too, and I don’t remember 20 million dollars for Doak Cambell Stadium being part of it.

    Both you and I know that’s the truth. You can make all the arguments you want, but the city’s word is worthless as long as John Dailey is running it.

    Why don’t you take up a collection and just buy the five acres and leave the city out of it? Then we could hire a couple extra cops…

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  10. @ David Hawkins…

    You are very wise and your have presented a very sound and well thought out plan.

    Reply

  11. The Sheridan’s are truly generous, Mr. Lyle has a better plan than the mayor.

    This is aligned with the mayor’s re- election campaign and may or may not be by design. The mayor does not serve the public well and should in no way be trusted.

    He allows no bid contracts, misuses infrastructure funds, misuses WCOT for campaign purposes, manipulated the CSC selection process for choosing a director, looks the other way at corruption (Maddox and Gillum), refuses to do a nationwide search for a City Manager…

    Table this until after the election so this potential project is handled with clean hands. The citizens and especially the Sheridan’s deserve such.

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  12. This performing arts Center is for use by non-profit organizations which are and have been in line trying to use whatever space that is left in Tallahassee and surrounding communities after the owning venue uses it for the purpose it was intended; at times that are left. Generous and appreciated, but inadequate for the needs of the community. Non-profit organizations offer services to our community not paid by our taxes and cannot always obtain grants. They discover unknown talents and offer entertainment and pride in the community. Unfortunately, what was built such as the Civic center was too big and not addressing the needs of the little guy. Our community cannot or will not support a large auditorium at this time. However, in the future it will be useful in attracting conventions to our Capital City and economy. The concept presented by the foundation is called a Triple P whereby the private sector, provides services normally provided for the public. This is a win win partnership for all parties. The fact that it will be managed by the private sector means it will be ran as a business with qualified employees, volunteers and contributors; on a budget with a long term business plan. Northwood Center is centrally located so all 4 quadrants of Tallahassee will have the opportunity to use it along with Raa middle school an Arts school and has the appreciation from Leon County schools for this added support. The City Commissioners unanimously understand this need and the savings and benefit to the citizens of Tallahassee. After getting and understanding all the facts and ironing out the details, so will the community.

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  13. Can anyone explain why Dailey should be trusted ever again, and particularly about a performing arts center?? Isn’t it ODD that this proposal is coming back now, and was never a part of the deliberations concerning Blueprint and the FSU stadium project?!

    I am from Clearwater, Florida. Clearwater boasts having an extremely successful performing arts center – Ruth Eckerd Hall. It is acoustically perfect, versatile, and completely owned & operated by an established performing arts foundation. The facilities were endowed from the day it broke ground, and it was (is) an impressive undertaking!

    I *do not* believe for a minute anyone on that dias understands what it will take to make a performing arts complex attractive, competitive and profitable.

    Unfortunately, I am not convinced the Sheridan’s do either, although I do believe their heart is in the right place.

    Several years ago, I had a health and cordial discussion with the group wanting to bring a PAC to the downtown area. I stated then as I do now, there *MUST* be a private commitment and a well developed plan to be self-sustaining. That working business plan needs to show a ten and twenty year financial plan with identifiable goals and have emphasis on fundraising. This absolutely cannot be another tax supported pork belly project. In fact, I suggest this needs to be 100% privately funded *including* the land. Why? Because those investing have a personal stake in its success. Without that personal stake, I do not believe this can succeed / survive in the *business space.*

    I would encourage anyone evaluating the proposal to measure it against other performing arts foundations working in the black. I hope there will be a close examination of other PAC business models, financials and origination plans.

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  14. I’m with David on this one. Do not “give” taxpayer-owned property away, particularly based some individual’s health condition – what the hell is that form of justification anyway… we have to hurry up because someone who has a “vision” might die soon? If it’s a good idea with a long-term benefit to the community, it should certainly outlast all of us.

    Do a 10-year ($1 a-year) lease of the land, with a renewal option if detailed benchmarks are reached to include empirical data that shows the benefit to the taxpayer. I have no problem with adding a little culture to the area, but it has to demonstrate self-reliance and a return on the taxpayer investment.

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  15. Free Stuff. first the city runs a bus system and electric company and the tax payer pays the bills. Now the city wants to go into the performing arts business??? More taxes. Sooner or later, some tax payers will be force to sell their homes and relocate elsewhere just to escape growing taxes. The government should not be in the bus, electricity or performing arts business.

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  16. That sounds like a great idea! Let’s give away 5 acres of the taxpayer’s land so Tallahassee’s landed gentry can build a theater for 450 of Tallahassee’s most beautiful and well-heeled political donors.

    Our Mayor is a hopelessly corrupt son of a gun who is only interested in what benefits him personally. What a sorry excuse for an executive, he is a freaking reprobate of the highest order. Why can’t he just smoke meth and hang out with gay porn stars like the last mayor?

    That would be a monumental improvement over what we have now.

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  17. Here is a thought, instead of DONATING the 5 Acres of land to the Michael H. and Judy W. Sheridan Center for the Arts Foundation, Donate the USE of the 5 Acres with the stipulation that it MUST be used as a Performing Arts Center and if it Fails, it all reverts back to the City. If they truly believe that their Performing Arts Center will succeed then they will do it, if they DON’T, they won’t. Just like when Businesses will Lease Land to build their Building on, they don’t own the Land, just the Building, until the Lease is up. Then it all reverts back to the Land Owner. It is a Win Win for everyone, they get to build their Performing Arts Center and the City gets to keep the Land.

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  18. You are STILL talking about a Performing Arts Center? The REAL People said they didn’t want it 15 Years, 10 Years 5 Years ago and we STILL DON’T WANT IT. Stop wasting our Money on this crap for the 1%ers. You have the Civic Center, Ruby Diamond and a few other places that can handle doing the performing arts stuff with ease. Everyone of you that vote FOR this needs to go.

    Reply

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