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City Commission approves Griffin Heights Neighborhood First Plan, affordable housing development, resident ID card program

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:51 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - At the September 22nd City Commission meeting, Commissioners approved the Griffin Heights Neighborhood First Plan, a density change for an affordable housing development, and the creation of a resident ID card program.

Griffin Heights Neighborhood First Plan

The Tallahassee City Commission unanimously voted to approve the Griffin Heights Neighborhood First Plan; the first four kickoff projects will cost $2,250,000 in total.

Residents have worked on the plan for years; the document is 100 pages long.

Local residents, including New Birth Tabernacle of Praise Pastor Rudy Ferguson, say they’re ready to get to work.

“I do remember the former years of what it looked like when my grandmother and my great-grandmother were living, and how this community was very plush and very beautiful. And we all know certain things have come into our community such as drugs, crime, and violence. And we’re so glad to see that a lot of that has gone out the door, or is making its way out the door!” Ferguson said.

The four kickoff projects include:

  • Purchase and renovation of 1309 Alabama Street: $450,000 from the City, $210,000 from OEV
  • Homeownership program: $1,250,000
    • New construction: $700,000
    • Home rehab: $300,000
    • Home rehab CDBG (H&CR Dept.): $250,000
  • Microenterprise business development program: $425,000
  • Creation of Griffin Heights Children & Families Resource Center: $125,000

Resident ID Card program

The City Commission voted 4 to 1 to establish a Resident ID Card program.

The cards will serve as a form of residency and identity for the population who do not have access or are otherwise unable to obtain a state ID.

The Commission voted to enter into a two-year pilot program with the Legal Aid Foundation of Tallahassee.

City Commissioner Jack Porter has pushed for the program for months.

“Having a resident community ID program reaches a lot of people who are not eligible for one reason or another, to access services, for law enforcement to work with them, to have their identification, so there’s a lot of benefits that you see,” Porter said.

Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox requested an update six months into the program.

Mayor John Dailey was the dissenting vote on the program, asking for it to be put on pause with more information on its implementation and the need in Tallahassee.

Resident ID programs exist nationwide, as well as across the state of Florida, in Broward County, West Palm Beach, and Alachua County.

The cards will not replace driver’s licenses, and they cannot be used to vote.

New Affordable Housing

More affordable housing is coming to the west side of Tallahassee, thanks to a local church.

The City Commission voted in favor of allowing a higher density on the property to help the development succeed.

The Commission has voted multiple times to make it more accessible for developers to create affordable housing.

For the latest project, the existing zoning would have allowed 79 units. By increasing the density by 25%, now 99 units can be built on the vacant land.

City Commissioner Jack Porter says affordable housing is a major need in Tallahassee.

“We have a shortage of affordable housing units that are for families, that are for different types of people, whether you’re a young single, whether you’re a young married, whether you have kids,” Porter said. “We also have an issue with the quality of the affordable housing stock, that’s another thing.”

Affordable Housing developer Birdsong Housing and local company Graceful Solutions will be building the 4 three-story walk-up buildings on four acres owned by ALARM Ministries.

The development will be on Pecan Road, just south of I-10.

The apartments will include 10 one-bedroom units, 58 two-bedroom units, and 28 three-bedroom units.

City Manager Reese Goad says, with this latest project, the City now has 1,300 designated affordable housing units.

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