Setting the groundwork to improve the vitality of our city and its neighborhoods starts with some aesthetic improvements.
For example, we have the road work and the traffic interruptions at Gaines and Railroad, as the second phase of that revitalization project gets under way. It will look messy for a while, but the final result is one we will be proud of.
Now, a small stretch of road in Midtown is getting a face-lift as the city of Tallahassee starts work on similar aesthetic changes to Fifth Avenue, between North Gadsden Street and Thomasville Road. It’s part of the Fifth Avenue Beautification Project, which began Monday and is expected to be completed by early summer.
Consider it the behind-the-scenes work before Fifth Avenue can be presented as a pedestrian-friendly, multi-use plaza area. The road will remain open to traffic once the work is completed, but the goal is to make the short stretch appealing so that it can be blocked off for special events and turned into a mini-village, offering street festivals and a gathering spot for tourists and regulars right in the middle of the city. Think of Adams Street during the Downtown GetDowns.
The $370,000 invested represents a smart move. It’s also important in that it’s in direct response to the merchants, property owners and others who took it upon themselves to invest in this once nondescript area of the city to create Midtown. The area and brand have since signified a destination area that is generating economic development, jobs and fun for the capital city.
The upgrade on Fifth Avenue will bring sidewalks, new brick-like road paving, seating walls, decorative gas lights and electric hook-ups for bands and vendors to use when it’s transformed into a festival village.
“Midtown has experienced a Renaissance over the past few years, and this project will add another element to further enhance the area,” City Commissioner Mark Mustian said in a news release. “This project is designed to enhance the quality of life for all Tallahassee residents.”
The Fifth Avenue project is the latest in a series of improvements already under way or in the planning stages, as part of Tallahassee’s Sense of Place project. Later this year, residents will see work beginning on Palmer Avenue at South Monroe Street, the first sign of the transformation of the South Monroe/South Adams corridor.
Once more money becomes available, efforts will begin to enhance the Market District, encouraging shoppers to walk among the many businesses near Timberlane Road and Market Street.
Slowly but surely, partnerships between merchants, residents and local government are coming to fruition, which means both economic growth and community pride.