Now is the time for Tallahassee to leverage the economic benefits of CollegeTown


What was once several blocks of warehouses and empty lots is now one of Tallahassee’s most popular destinations for students and young professionals.

The story of the transition from this old part of town to a prime urban location called CollegeTown is complex. But its story also points to ways to improve the value of this prosperous part of Tallahassee.

Beginning with the revitalization of the Gaines Street corridor, the CollegeTown area was initially envisioned by developers as a place where students and alumni could congregate. CollegeTown does just that by offering a wide array of amenities – making it a student-friendly place to live, eat, and play.

Within walking distance of the Florida State University campus and a short drive to Florida A&M University, CollegeTown’s location is its most desirable amenity.

Since the completion of CollegeTown in 2013, property values ​​have skyrocketed. In the years prior to development, the combined values ​​of warehouse properties in the area were all under $1 million.

Those numbers are much higher now according to our analysis at the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State’s College of Social Sciences and Public Policy.

madison social

According to the Florida Department of Revenue, the value of the land that houses the popular Madison Social restaurant is approximately $1.8 million. The Catalyst Apartment building is worth around $32 million, and the building leased to Urban Outfitters is worth just over $1.8 million.

Urban Outfitters renovation completed in 2013, located in Tallahassee, Florida

The total value of properties in the CollegeTown area in 2019 exceeded $861 million, nearly double its value of $489 million in 2006.

The development makes great use of space by incorporating a variety of mixed-use buildings. The owners are using these buildings to their advantage with three different phases of “CollegeTown Apartments” above the commercial spaces for restaurants and shops. Mixed-use properties help provide different sources of income for investors with the ability to collect commercial and residential rents. These mixed-use buildings also increase property values.

Madison social owner Matt Thompson pours first 3,000 ounce drink

Clearly, CollegeTown has realized a tremendous return on investment for all parties involved in its development.

Although CollegeTown has been a social, economic, and aesthetic success for the city of Tallahassee, the incorporation of a few additional elements could enhance it as a regional destination for families, students, and alumni.

For example, the introduction of a park would enhance the walkability of the area while creating visual appeal and a pet-friendly area for residents. This addition could increase the land value of the surrounding buildings and the rental prices of the apartments.

Collegetown Phase III built in 2018, located in Tallahassee, Florida

Attracting national retail brands to the student population, such as Lululemon or Sephora, would complement existing local stores and increase demand in the student retail market.

These improvements could further increase community engagement and make CollegeTown a destination of choice for visitors and strengthen an already crucial asset for Tallahassee.

Ava Jowers

Ava Jowers is a research assistant at the DeVoe L. Moore Center at the Florida State College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, where she is a sophomore majoring in finance.


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