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TLH Arts Performing Arts Center Clears Another Hurdle

Early renderings depict what the new TLH Performing Arts Center could look like in the Railroad Square Art District.
City of Tallahassee
Early renderings depict what the new TLH Performing Arts Center could look like in the Railroad Square Art District.

Tallahassee city commissioners agreed on Wednesday that the city will take ownership of a building in the Railroad Square Art District that could house a new performing arts center.

The move allows the TLH Arts project to receive nearly $2 million in Tourist Development Tax funds.

City commissioners voted unanimously to accept the property, located at
618 McDonnell Drive, as a gift from Railroad Square, LLC. But at least one commissioner expressed concern about taking ownership of a new building before the city has had a chance to inspect the property.

"We're accepting a gift that we have not evaluated yet," said Commissioner Diane Williams-Cox. "I have some concern about taking over the maintenance operation without inspection or review or any of that."

Williams-Cox serves on the city's Community Redevelopment Agency board. She was the board's sole dissenting vote on the project because no inspection had been completed. "Nothing against the project — my vote was against the process."

However, Williams-Cox voted in favor of the project during the city commission meeting.

Responding to Williams-Cox, Mayor John Dailey explained the city isn’t technically bound to spend any money because the property is a donation.

“If the acceptance of the gift is to the detriment of the city through ownership, I could not imagine that we would move forward," Dailey said. "In fact, that would probably come back before us. And during all of this process, not a penny of the TDT funds would be spent until we are comfortable.”

The proposal to place a performing arts center in the Railroad Square Art District comes after TLH Arts scrapped plans to build the center in a different location. Local leaders approved allocating $1.8 million to help fund a new center in 2018.

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.