Catalyst Interview Series: Mat Tharpe

What initially got you interested in KCCI?

I had previously gone through Leadership Tallahassee (Class 32). I saw the good things past Catalyst were doing and knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.


Can you give us a brief summary of the Reimagining Waterworks project you worked on?

Well it started out as very much – and still is – an abandoned, old city building and we had a lot of conversations and meetings about what it could be and what its highest and best use could be. After meeting with hundreds of different people including city and county officials and elected leaders we were able to get it to a place where issuing a RFP (request for proposal) was the best plan of action so the property could be sold and reimagined. Our team was able to work with commissioners to ensure the historically integrity of the building would remain.


What were your favorite parts of the project?

The people I got to work with on our team, and the connections and insight I got by meeting with city officials – both staff and commissioners.


What were some challenges you faced with the Waterworks project?

I would say the first challenge was probably getting our group to agree on what might be the highest and best use of the building. Also getting the community to buy into a vision, and then working alongside the city to help make it happen.


How did it feel to have the city approve the Waterworks building to be sold to North American Properties and improvements being started?

It’s great. It’s definitely multiple years of hard work with a great team of people. Hopefully we start turning some dirt and seeing what they’re going to do with it. I’m looking forward to it.


Who should apply to be a KCCI Community Catalyst?

Anybody that cares about Tallahassee and wants to be involved and have a hand in making a difference. It’s amazing how much influence a KCCI class can have with city and county staff and commissioners when it comes to trying to push forward a good project.  


What is some advice you have for future Catalysts?

Learn your city, love your city. Get involved wherever you can – especially with KCCI – but also in other places. Just stay involved and keep pushing good projects forward.


Why did you choose to stay in Tallahassee and start your business here?

I’m from here so it seemed like the best place to start my business with all the connections and relationships that we had already established.


What are some of your favorite places in Tallahassee?

  • Food Glorious Food
  • Midtown
  • Shell Oyster Bar
  • Kool Beanz Cafe
  • Cascades Park
  • Walking and biking path from Cascades Park to Proof and Railroad Square