The Double Tree Debacle

[The following is a letter I submitted to the local paper, the Tallahassee Democrat, today. I’ll update this post with a link if it runs.]

On October 23rd, representatives of our city and county approved nearly $900,000 of public funds to be reimbursed to the Double Tree Hotel’s planned expansion and renovation of the building’s outside sections. [Source]

The funds are coming through the Community Redevelopment Agency which is tasked, through the Florida Statutes, Chapter 163, Part III, with revitalizing areas meeting the conditions set forth by Section 163.335 of the statute, including,

slum and blighted areas which constitute a serious and growing menace, injurious to the public health, safety, morals…contributes substantially and increasingly to the spread of disease and crime…onerous burdens which decrease the tax base and reduce tax revenues…aggravates traffic problems…and consume an excessive proportion of its revenues…

There’s been some outrage over the propriety of these funds being used in the downtown area, especially given the campaign contributions made to local officials by the hotel’s owner and the owner of the construction company awarded the project being related to a county commissioner.

I think, however, given the proximity of the Double Tree to city hall, the county courthouse, the state capital and several lobbying firms, that the area meets perfectly the listed requirements. The decision, made by our elected representatives, is clearly of sound judgment.

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