TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) – A pizza bar, fusion cuisine and a winery are just some of the business concepts slated for the SoMo Walls development on Tallahassee’s South Side.

Although the names of the companies and their owners have not been released, it is a good sign that there is progress. From groundbreaking in April 2022 to groundbreaking, work is now underway at the SoMo Walls site in Tallahassee.

“I always saw the potential,” said developer Bugra Demirel. “I was an international student in the city. I came to Tallahassee around 2005. I was a student. I’ve always been a part of this community.”

He’s working to uplift that community, eventually adding restaurants, retail and art space on land just steps from Cascades Park. They are currently working to overcome several challenges. Inflation is one of them.

“We’ve seen at least a 15 to 20 percent increase in spending across the board,” Demirel said. He added that the weather is also a favorable factor for the implementation of the project.

“When it rains, it spreads things with erosion,” Demirel explained. “We have to put it back together and put our frames back together. It was a little difficult, especially with the installation of sewers and underground stormwater connections.’

Demirel also said delays with electrical components are a big issue along with HVAC for heating and air conditioning. That doesn’t stop one of the businesses confirmed to expand here. Burn Boot Camp plans to eventually open a store.

“We were actually preparing to expand in 2020 right before the pandemic started. Took a step back and decided to regroup,” explained Becky Patterson. She already has a gym in northeast Tallahassee.

After surviving some of the hardest times of the pandemic, she set her sights on business development. Then she came across the SoMo Walls project.

“The renderings, the murals and the layout, the size: it really was the perfect fit for our situation,” Patterson said.

She said once construction is complete, the new gym will add jobs to the south side.

“It’s very exciting for me to bring more jobs to the south side. We’re probably going to double our staff from here,” Patterson added.

She said they will go from the 15 employees they have now to 30 full-time and part-time employees. Patterson said the move is in line with a broader mission to include minority- and women-owned businesses. “You know, I was very impressed that they actually set a target percentage of business owners in the space.”

It’s an idea that Demirel says he’s all about. “We adopted a 35 percent minority inclusion goal for this project, making sure that we hire local contractors and that the money that goes into this project is spent locally,” Demirel explained.

He added that they already have as many as three minority-owned businesses to set up shop here. Construction is scheduled to be completed between February and March 2023.