Park Place goes to the P&Z
Park Place, the proposed condominiumized parking garage where buyers can own their own space to use or rent out, will get its first formal review Tuesday.Hyman Avenue Holdings, LLC is seeking approval to construct a 99-space commercial parking garage, along with an office and two affordable housing units, at 707 E. Hyman Ave. The 12,000-square-foot parcel, next to the Benedict Commons housing complex, currently holds an A-frame building.Peter Fornell, the local real estate broker representing the developer, brought the idea to the P&Z and the City Council in a rare “sketch plan” review last fall. It was a chance to gauge the two boards’ reactions before coming forward with a formal application.Since that time, Fornell’s plans have evolved. The proposal now calls for an entirely automated system that will move vehicles to and from parking spaces in a seven-layer building, including several that will be below ground. An attendant would operate the system.”There’s only one in the United States – in Washington, D.C.,” according to Fornell. The German-based manufacturer took him to D.C. to see it in operation.The P&Z will see a video Fornell took of the system in D.C., and a manufacturer’s representative is expected to be on hand Tuesday to answer questions.Fornell’s concept calls for a condominiumized garage, in which each of the spaces is sold to buyers who may use them while they’re in town, and have them rented when they’re not. In that sense, it will function much like a public parking garage, he said.The idea is already generating interest, Fornell said.”I’ve got fourteen reserved already,” he said. “I’ve got one guy who wants five spaces. He doesn’t want to park in any of them – he just wants to earn revenue.”Fornell said he plans to sell the first 40 spaces for $125,000 apiece; the price will then jump to $150,000 for the remaining spaces.There will be various rates for public, short-term parking in the garage – for those who want a space for a day, by the hour or for an evening. In the off-season, when paid parking is still in effect downtown, but on-street spaces are easy to come by, Fornell said he expects to match the city’s meter rates at the garage.Park Place, proposed as a planned unit development, would be 35 feet high. The underlying zoning, the office zone district, has a 25-foot height limit. A parking structure is allowed as a conditional use in the office zone, according to Chris Bendon, city planner.”There is a question of whether this facility will attract more auto trips to town (build it and they will come) or … ease parking frustration of people already coming to town,” Bendon notes in his memo to the P&Z. “Staff suggests it’s likely a little of both – this facility will add to the inventory of parking and provide some relief to the ‘circling phenomenon.'”The P&Z is likely to first address whether it feels the structure is an appropriate use at the site, and then delve into such aspects of the proposal as its height and floor area, Bendon said. He does not expect the commission to conclude its review on Tuesday.One issue for the P&Z will be whether the “shelves” to park cars within the structure should count as floor area or whether the parking garage should be considered essentially an empty shell, since the parking levels don’t create usable space in the traditional sense.The city staff has recommended the project be approved.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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