They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Gateway Tallahassee, a 2011-2012 KCCI initiative, worked on ways to transform the city’s most heavily traveled entryways into corridors that clearly identify and brand the state capital as a vibrant, thriving and welcoming community.
After researching traffic numbers and government plans already under way, the Gateway Tallahassee catalyst team decided to focus its efforts on the North Monroe Street corridor for a number of reasons, including the following:
- High visibility – More than 40,000 vehicles travel Monroe between Interstate 10 and John Knox Road on a work weekday. By comparison, the traffic on Thomasville Road between Interstate 10 and Woodgate numbers about 28,000. North Monroe with its wide median also offers great potential for a landmark site.
- Plenty of stakeholders – Many businesses and nearby residents in the North Monroe area have a vested interest in making the corridor more aesthetically pleasing. There are more than 240 acres of commercial, retail or office parcels in this area that have a combined taxable value of more than $84 million.
- State capital pride – The North Monroe stretch is the most direct way from Interstate 10 to the state’s capitol. The team hoped a transformation would clearly identify to travelers that they have arrived in the capital city and showcase Tallahassee.
- The need for a starting place – Ideally a transformation of the North Monroe corridor could be replicated at other Tallahassee entry points.
With this in mind, the Gateway Tallahassee team set about to increase and organize stakeholder engagement; show what could be possible through streetscape beautification and creating a “sense of place” for the corridor; and present their work to city and county officials. For more than a year, team members surveyed business owners and residents; received and shared input from citizens and officials through private and public meetings; promoted project investment and partnerships; and did their best keep the initiative on the radar of government’s decision makers.
The team summarized gathered input in the following five findings:
- Stakeholders agree that improvements are needed on North Monroe to bolster safety and aesthetics.
- Stakeholders are concerned about the effects of declining property values and retailers leaving the Tallahassee Mall.
- Stakeholders agree that Tallahassee has the opportunity to identify North Monroe as a vital gateway into the city and use it to brand the city and its amenities.
- Stakeholders realize improving North Monroe’s sense of place will take a financial infusion and cooperation among different agencies.
- Stakeholders agree an association is needed to advocate on behalf of North Monroe, especially to better position the area to capitalize on any future funding opportunities.
The Gateway Tallahassee team’s time-intensive work led to the following successful outcomes:
- The team fostered a new merchants association to advocate for the North Monroe area.
- The stakeholders and team partnered with Florida A&M University architecture students who created urban designs for the corridor that were sent to the planning department.
- The project was adopted as a Tier-1 recommendation by the Leon County Sales Tax Committee and was listed as part of the Penny Sales Tax Extension proposal that went before voters in 2014.
These are the people who helped make this project possible.
- Jeff Bond
- Sarah Duncan
- Colleen Dwyer
- Edward Fernandez
- Joseph Foster
- Nancy Mattimore
- Sandra Whitehead
- Melanie Yeager