The Leon County Sales Tax Committee voted June 13 to recommend public funding for major infrastructure investments on one of the last remaining areas of vacant land inside Tallahassee’s Urban Services Area, the 7,000-acre Welaunee Critical Planning Area owned primarily by long-time client, Powerhouse, Inc.
With one dissenting vote, the Committee recommended $47.3 million in top-priority funding for Phase 1 of the Northeast Gateway, which includes a regional road network that would serve a new interchange on I-10, which bisects the planning area. Also included in Phase 1 is a new greenway and trail network. HGS lawyers David Powell and Gary Hunter are representing Powerhouse in the effort.
The infrastructure would be located within the predominantly agricultural landholding, most of which is still owned by Powerhouse. The committee is considering various proposals to recommend for public funding by a proposed extension of Leon County’s 1-cent local-option infrastructure sales tax.
Powerhouse, owned by the Mettler family and its forbears since 1909, has been planning portions of its land for urban growth since the property was included in Tallahassee’s Urban Services Area in 1990. Recently, Powerhouse persuaded others to join in promoting the Northeast Gateway for long-term infrastructure investments in Tallahassee’s northeastern growth corridor.
These investments include the planned four-lane Welaunee Boulevard as a north-south route to serve a new I-10 interchange and a two-lane extension of Shamrock Way to distribute traffic east and west. Traffic studies show the interchange and regional road network would provide significant relief from congestion on two major arterials, Thomasville Road and U.S. 90 (Mahan Drive). They also would relieve congestion on two of Tallahassee’s famous canopy roads.
Powerhouse’s planners have conceptually planned a mixed-use Northeast Gateway Activity Center abutting the I-10 interchange. Such a center with major office and retail centers would provide a new location for regional economic activity.
The Northeast Gateway also includes two new trailheads on the existing 500-acre Miccosukee Canopy Road Greenway, which was planned by Powerhouse and sold to the State of Florida in 1998. And, it includes a new 8.4-mile-long Welaunee Greenway with multi-use trails that would that would connect to the Miccosukee Canopy Road Greenway by way of a footbridge across I-10.
The new greenway and footbridge would create the potential for a 17-mile loop in the northeastern Tallahassee growth corridor.
Preliminary cost projections for the Northeast Gateway total $78.0 million. The I-10/Welaunee Boulevard interchange and the supporting regional road network has been included in approved local land use and transportation plans for more than ten years. The interchange recently was recommended in the Florida Department of Transportation’s update of its I-10 Master Plan.