Downtown parking deck committee meets again

Courtesy imagery
This concept drawing shows a parking deck directly to the south of the intersection of Spring Street and West Avenue.

Mayor Jordan’s Parking Deck Committee met for the second time this week to kick around some more ideas for a downtown parking deck.

When it comes to brainstorming, the ad hoc committee has no shortage of ideas (see previous story). One thing, however, is pretty firm: the group thinks the best place for the deck would be on the existing lot at Spring Street and West Avenue, across the street from Grub’s Bar & Grille.

That location, which is currently home to a city-owned paid parking lot, raises some space-related questions.

For example, would there be enough of a net gain in parking? And is there even enough room for construction?

The first question doesn’t seem to be very contentious. Mayor Jordan has repeatedly said he’d like the deck to include 300 spaces and the group is well aware that the favored location already includes a 65-space lot. A net gain of only 235 spaces hasn’t raised too many eyebrows, at least not during the committee’s first two meetings.

Question number two, however, has been brought up twice by Carl Collier of Collier Drug Stores.

“I think you need as much land on that lot as you can get,” Collier told the group last month. He said the constraints of the small area would likely require condemnation of some of the surrounding property to be used as a staging area for construction.

During this week’s meeting, Collier suggested condemning the entire block.

Mayor Jordan said he hoped the city wouldn’t need to condemn anyone’s property to make room for a parking deck.

“I understand,” said Collier, “but that’s your power.”

Jordan would, of course, need more than just power to purchase land.

City finance director Paul Becker said a 300-space parking deck alone will require between $5 million and $6 million in bonds. Becker said funding for the project would need to be in place by the end of the year in order to secure low interest, bank qualified financing.

With less than three months left in the year, and with design and City Council approval still needed, Jordan’s staff is looking at a pretty tight timetable.

“It’s time for the talk to end and to get moving,” said Jordan last month when group meetings first began.

True that.

Mayor Jordan’s parking deck committee

Carl Collier – Owner, Collier’s Drug Store
Steve Clark – President and CEO, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce
Andrea Foren – Purchasing agent, city of Fayetteville / owner, Maxine’s Tap Room
Marilyn Heifner – Executive director, Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission
Ethel Goodstein-Murphree – Associate Dean / professor, UA Fay Jones School of Architecture
Stephen Smith — Communications professor, University of Arkansas
Brian Swain – Administrator, Central United Methodist Church
Terri Trotter – Chief operating officer, Walton Arts Center
Sharon Waters – Parking and telecommunications manager, city of Fayetteville
Amy White – Owner, Something Urban

Next scheduled Parking Deck Committee meeting

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011
Time: 9 a.m.
Location: Fayetteville City Hall, room 326