On behalf of long-time client Powerhouse, Inc., HGS lawyer David Powell is urging the Leon County Sales Tax Committee for major infrastructure investments on one of the last remaining areas of vacant lands identified for future urban growth in Tallahassee, the 7,000-acre Welaunee Critical Planning Area that is bisected by I-10.
The proposed Northeast Gateway would include a new interchange on I-10 as well as a region-serving road network and a new greenway and trail network. 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 for generations, has been planning portions of its land for sale and development since 2000. 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 4-lane Welaunee Boulevard as a north-south route to serve a new I-10 interchange and a 2-lane extension of Shamrock Way to distribute traffic east and west. Traffic studies show the interchange and regional road network in Northeast Tallahassee would provide significant relief from congestion on two major arterials, Thomasville Road and U.S. 90 (Mahan Drive). They also would relieve congestion two scenic canopy roads, Miccosukee Road and Centerville Road.
While evaluating interchange issues, Powerhouse’s planners conceptually planned a Northeast Gateway Activity Center that could be located on Powerhouse’s property abutting the I-10 interchange. Such a mixed-use center would provide a new location for regional economic activity, after Powerhouse’s property north of the interchange received land use and development approval from the City of Tallahassee in the future.
The Northeast Gateway proposal also includes 2 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.
Finally, the proposal includes a new 8.4-mile-long Welaunee Greenway that would provide a paved trail for pedestrians and bicyclists and a separate unpaved trail for equestrians. The Welaunee Greenway would connect to other trails in the area, including the Miccosukee Canopy Road Greenway, via a footbridge across I-10. The result would be a 17-mile trail loop around the entire Welaunee Critical Planning Area.
Preliminary cost projections for the Northeast Gateway total $78.0 million. Gateway supporters have proposed the project be funded and constructed in three phases, in coordination with construction of a new I-10 interchange, to be funded by others. The proposed I-10 / Welaunee Boulevard interchange and the supporting regional road network has been includeed in approved local land use and transportation plans for more than 10 years but recently was recommended in the Florida Department of Transportation’s update of its I-10 Master Plan.