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The Owners Of Railroad Square Talk About Its Future

A sign reads, "Railroad Square Art District" next to the construction of a hotel.
Robbie Gaffney
The Hyatt Homes Hotel is being built right next to the Railroad Square Art District. The district's co-owner Lily Boynton Kaye hopes the hotel will attract more visitors to local businesses.

Changes could be coming to Tallahassee's Railroad Square once again. A new hotel in the neighborhood is expected to open in February, and many of the businesses are facing hardships linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Railroad Square Art District has been in the Boynton Kaye family for three generations. Siblings Adam and Lily are now co-owners. Adam Boynton Kaye says since April, they've been subsidizing rent for tenants by providing a 10% discount:

"And some tenants have even had a harder time, so we've worked with them, and we've given rental reductions, basically disaster grants of our own internally to some tenants."

The Boynton Kayes say they will end the discount once things return to normal. Lily Boynton Kaye says after that, they will raise the rent eventually due to rising costs:

"We don't know when rents will increase, but before we even get to that, we have to get rents to pre-pandemic levels. And that's the next step."

Pictured here is a hotel. A sign on it reads, "Hyatt House."
Robbie Gaffney
The Hyatt House Hotel is slated to open February 17, 2021.

As for those concerned the hotel will forever change the art district, Adam Boynton Kaye says the district's culture has always been shifting:

"We love the art of creation, we love to be patrons to enable creative people but at the same time the evolution, the natural evolution of the area, it forces people to say, 'are you an artist, or are you an artist and a businessperson?'"

Boynton Kaye says for people who can't be both; it's harder for them to stay at Railroad Square. But he says there are cultural parts his family wants to preserve:

"The foundational component of our culture is that something for everybody and a place where everyone feels comfortable."

He says they try to make sure their tenant makeup is diverse, and they are willing to offer varied rental rates based on what businesses can bring. Lily Boynton Kaye says she hopes the hotel will help to drive more visitors to the area by promoting local artists.

"Agreeing to put art from exclusively local artists from railroad square throughout the hotel. So those guests are going to have the experience of learning about the local artists just by being in the hotel, and I think that will really make them want to venture out and explore what other businesses are around them."

The Boynton Kayes are looking forward to the Hyatt House Hotel's opening slated for February 2021.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.