Community Development

Community Development on the Southside of Tallahassee Photo Slideshow

Click here for Community Development on the Southside of Tallahassee Photo Slideshow

Renovated Building on the Southside Scheduled to Open Back Up Soon

Written by: Mariah DePass

October 23, 2017

If you’re travelling throughout the southside of Tallahassee, you’ll notice that a lot has changed. Just recently in June, the Winn-Dixie on Paul Russell Road and also the Walgreens on South Monroe Street closed down. Amongst all of the closings, the abandoned building that previously housed the Chosen Generation Worship Center at 2025 S. Adams Street, is now the renovated home to a strip of new businesses. Those businesses include, Smoke City, The Alley Shoppe, and a barber shop.

Smoke City is a store that sells vape, hookah, pipes, and tobacco. The Alley Shop is a black owned business that sells African print book bags, African shea butter, dashiki apparel, jewelry, soap, toothpaste, and more.

The owner of The Alley Shoppe is Reo Cairwell, a 37-year-old entrepreneur from Miami. Cairwell said that when he saw the location across the street from the Marathon gas station, “it was a mess,” but he thought that it would be the best location for his African themed shop.

Cairwell and his wife, Niesha Deloatch, just move to Tallahassee less than a month ago to expand their business which was first established in 2015 at a flea market in Jacksonville. Deloatch said that they were able to use FAMU’s homecoming in order to network and let people know what their business is about.

“I didn’t think it was going to be so many people,” said Deloatch in reference to FAMU homecoming.

Cairwell said, “My goal is just to enlighten as many people as I can about our culture and the products.”

He said that he has two friends who live in Ghana that ship him raw shea butter and black soap from their farm.

When asked if he was intimidated by all of the developmental changes on the southside, he said, “The only thing I’m afraid of is not providing for my family.”

Although many major corporations have closed down on the southside, there has been an increase of black owned businesses such as Trap House Apparel, Lady Luck, and C-Line. Cairwell said he is working on a partnership with another business owner on South Adams Street and they’re planning to do something else on the same street.  

He said, “It’s called group economics where one black owned business can support another black owned business and from that support, we can create our own and have another black owned business. We can do that again for another year or two so now we’re creating more jobs for people here like the college students. I know some college students who be ready to sell dope, sell their body, whatever, just to eat. We need unity. We need to create our own and make sure our youth and our future generations are okay. So let’s do it.”

According to, Florida experienced a gain of 62,400 jobs (0.7%) since Sep 2016. These businesses are scheduled to open up on the southside of Tallahassee before the end of 2017 and hopefully bringing more jobs to the community.



New Hotel and Nightclub scheduled to Open on Railroad Avenue and Gaines Street


Written by: Mariah Depass

November 19, 2017

Railroad avenue has been the home of major redevelopment projects here in Tallahassee. The most recent has been The Hampton Inn & Suites and GVO nightclub.

According,; the real estate development company; The Hampton Inn & Suites will open by 2018. The hotel will consist of 124 rooms and nearly 80,000 square feet of space as well as an outdoor pool and a 24/7 fitness center. The new hotel on Railroad Avenue, is only 5 miles away from Tallahassee Regional Airport and just walking distance from FAMU and the Donald Tucker Civic Center. Though still under construction, Hampton Inn & Suites is currently accepting reservations for March 18, 2018 and beyond.

Khalid Mahmood, owner of the Sunoco gas station at the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Gaines Street, said about the Hampton Inn construction, “it’s more commercialized but personally it’s better because I’m gaining more customers.”

He said, “they’re building a beer garden across the street. For my business, that will be really good.”

The building across the street from Sunoco has opened, closed, and reopened many times over the years. If you were there just a few years ago, you might’ve enjoyed the ambiance of The Crepevine, or even had a kick back or two at the Sidebar Theatre. Recently, Florida State University alumnus, Eric Kemp, has transformed the space yet again. Kemp, CEO of GVO (Good Vibes Only), said that the space will be opening up soon.

Attached to Scratch House, a boutique nightclub that opened in September, GVO’s outside lounge features a beer garden with oversized games such as Jenga, Connect 4, Twister and an adult seesaw. The outside of the building is covered in murals.
Kemp said, “the art garden is intended to be a relaxing atmosphere where you can lounge in a hammocks and enjoy the carefree aura.”

GVO plans to incorporate live music into the nightclub since the part of the building where Scratch House will be was previously the Sidebar Theatre.

GVO/Scratch House will also be the first venue in Tallahassee with a designated Uber/Lyft lane. The age restriction is 18+ for girls and 21+ for guys. GVO and the beer garden will be open on Saturday nights and for happy hour specials on Fridays. Scratch House will be open on Saturday nights and also on Friday nights before home football games.

With the new hotel and nightclub opening on the same street, Tallahassee can expect a boost in revenue and tourist activity especially around graduation season. This comes right at the cusp of the completion of the FAMU Way project which will drastically change traffic on the southside by adding roundabouts from Pinellas Street to Gamble Street. Some residents believe this is gentrification at it finest while some are excited about the changes. All in all, only time will tell what the southside of Tallahassee will become.





New Publix Wise on Gaines Street May Relieve Food Desert Problem in Tallahassee


Written by Mariah Depass

December 07, 2017

Publix Super Markets, Inc. announced the company’s plan to build a Publix Wise on Gaines Street. Additional details will be shared closer to the store’s opening in late 2018.

The organic grocery store comes in the midst of a food desert problem that has been taking place in the south city of Tallahassee since the closing of the Harvey’s on South Monroe Street three years ago.

The United States Department of Agriculture defines food deserts as, “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy whole foods, usually found and impoverished areas.”

Low-income areas, such as the southside of Tallahassee, are densely populated with fast food restaurants and corner stores so residents are left with processed canned and frozen foods to feed their families with.

Dykibra Gaskin, the director of the WIC program, said “A lot of times the larger storeschoose not to set up business in low income areas and so that’s where you tend to have a lot of the food deserts.”

Much like the Harvey’s and the Winn-Dixie that closed on South Monroe Street.

Joseph Ward, outreach specialist at Neighborhood Medical Center, said, “The Winn-Dixie on South Adams being shut down . . . that hurts the southside community. Yes, the Piggly Wiggly is there but not having access to an abundance of places where you can access fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy meats, good quality meats, and just good quality food all around, it weighs on your health, especially if you already have health issues.”

According to the USDA, in order to qualify as “low-access community,” at least 33 percent of the census tract’s population must reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.

The Publix Wise is being built 2.5 miles away from where the Winn-Dixie was. For residents in that area without a car, it will take about 20 to 30 minutes to get to the new Publix Wise by bus and about 30 minutes to walk.

According to the USDA, 4.2 percent of all housing units are at least 0.5 mile from a store and 9.2 percent of all housing units in the United States do not have a vehicle.

Ward said, “Shopping at Publix versus shopping at Save-a-lot is a total difference on your health. You can go into some of these stores and look at the quality of the fruits and vegetables and the quality of the meats versus the Publix, or New Leaf and some of these whole foods. Also, not only do I not have the money to get this, how am I going to get there if I don’t have transportation?”

Gaskin said, “A lot of this stuff works better on a policy level. We’d like to see more lawmakers making decisions, getting to understand the areas and the needs when it comes to access to healthy foods.”

Community members in this predicament can depend on community gardens such as igrow to obtain fresh produce. The nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at the Florida Department of Health, also provides assistance such as healthy foods, nutrition education and counseling, breastfeeding support, and referrals for health care and community services to low-income families at no cost.