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Advisory Panel Named for Firestone Project

Tom Flanigan

The developer of a proposed hotel, apartment and retail space on Tallahassee’s East Gaines Street has formed a community panel to help guide the project. That panel will suggest ways to preserve at least part of what was the old Leon County Jail and Health Department buildings.

The developer hosted a Friday (5/5) tour of the long-closed Firestone Building - which began life as the jail - and the former Health Department structure for the newly-named panel and members of the media. In the course of the tour, the Reverend Henry Marion Steele, oldest son of legendary civil rights leader C.K.Steele, found himself standing in the room where his jail cell once was.

“The slammer was back down this end," he recalled, straining to place long-vanished features in the now vacant space. "I remember seeing one guy…” and he proceeded to recount the tale of a troublesome jail "regular".

Equal Rights Attorney John Due, agreed the property's history needs to be preserved.

“So that the next generation will know the struggles that my wife and Henry went through and the struggles that they will have to go through for their future.”

Due and Steele are now among one dozen community advisors who will help developer Shawn McIntyre as he transforms those two blocks just north of Cascades Park.

“We believe that we’ll be able to keep a portion of some of these buildings, but we’re also going to work hard to honor everything that took place here,” he promised.

The advisory panel will next meet on May 23rd to share their thoughts with McIntyre’s project team.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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