The frustration experienced by Blackwater Resources in working with the city of Tallahassee over the redevelopment of the former Tallahassee Mall site is, unfortunately, an old song for many local businesses, and the lack of a noise ordinance is just a symptom of a much bigger problem. Discretion in the local regulatory process has delayed numerous projects over the years, eating up critical time and resources as permit applicants respond to ambiguous and unexpected demands by local regulators.
For example, in a study of more than two dozen commercial shopping center projects in Tallahassee, the DeVoe Moore Center found that the typical project took 2.6 years to go from zoning approval to occupancy. Some projects took five years or more, while the shortest was one year. The size and square footage of the project seemed to have little impact on the pace of the permitting process.
If businesses are fortunate enough to propose a high-profile project that aligns with city priorities, they may well find a willing and eager partner. The redevelopment of College Town and Gaines Street is a case in point. Once the city decided to make a prime location best known for its acres of vacant warehouses a priority, city sewer and drainage projects primed the pump for private investment and the city facilitated the permitting process through its redevelopment authority.