GROW TALLAHASSEE POSITION ON
NORTHEAST GATEWAY: WELAUNEE BOULEVARD
Seven months ago, Grow Tallahassee published a policy suggestion for Welaunee Arch Master Plan and proposed amendments, highlighting the importance of income and employment opportunities, in addition to the existing shortage in the housing market. As our local economy recovers from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we stress the need for our policy makers to consider current market conditions and take action.
Tallahassee home prices have reached historically high levels, sidelining medium and low-income buyers in the recent bidding wars. Low interest rates are a contributing factor; however, lack of supply remains the main reason for inflated housing prices. Construction of new homes since the end of the 2008 recession has not kept pace with population growth. Adding the increased cost of materials and labor shortages post Hurricane Michael into the mix, first-time home buyers of Leon County are faced with an increasingly difficult path to homeownership.
The Northeast Gateway project and surrounding residential development is needed to increase the supply of homes in our community and normalize the market conditions.
In addition to the potential stabilization of Tallahassee’s housing market, the Northeast Gateway is estimated to bring major economic benefits. According to the Florida State University Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis (CEFA), the roadway construction portion of the project will generate $104.6 million in economic output, including 649 jobs and $33 million in income or wages. Non-roadway economic activity, meaning the construction of residential and commercial areas, could provide up to $3.3 billion in economic output. CEFA also concluded that Tallahassee residents would save a considerable amount of time and money by using the improved traffic system that will be provided by the Northeast Gateway project. Once completed, the project will also reduce the traffic on our two beautiful canopy roads, Miccosukee and Centerville, and provide additional relief to Mahan and Thomasville Road.
Commitment to inclusive and sustainable growth requires policy approaches that are consistent with one another. Postponing the introduction of new housing into Tallahassee’s inventory means delaying our affordable housing needs. Stalling billions of dollars in economic activity and thousands of new jobs undermines our efforts to increase income, eradicate poverty and reduce crime in our community. Above all, it is not reasonable to expect Tallahassee’s young professionals to settle and raise a family, if all they can choose from is an overpriced and aged housing inventory.
Grow Tallahassee applauds Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency for their progressive vision, comprehensive planning, and commitment to community engagement. We urge the Blueprint IA Board to approve the Project Development and Environmental Study (PD&E) and continue the progress on the Northeast Gateway project.