Parking garage conditions will not be met

December 04, 2003|LIZ MAPLES

Although the city continues to work on construction and bond paperwork for a parking garage in downtown Danville, Third Street Development Corporation said it won't - or can't - meet conditions set by the Danville City Commission.

Third Street now says that a Nov. 30 deadline it cited in lobbying the city wasn't set by the unidentified tenant, as many thought, but rather one the corporation set for itself to put together information for a December meeting with the tenant.

Janet Hamner, Third Street corporation director, wouldn't say when the group was supposed to meet with the tenant, but said that it didn't expect an answer on the lease until after the first of the year.

Mayor John W.D. Bowling was not available for comment today.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to commit to a bond issue for the parking garage with several conditions, based on the contingency that the city receive an expected federal grant worth $1.75 million.


The federal budget, with the money included, has been passed by Congress, but awaits President Bush's signature.

Hamner said there was a "99 percent surety" that the city would get the money.

The commissioners' other conditions were: a signed letter of commitment from the unidentified tenant, that Third Street make up the city's loss on the garage and the city have a "right of first refusal" if the corporation ever wanted to sell the Hub.

Hamner said that the city would never receive a "letter of commitment."

"That is not the way you do business," she said. "It's not possible."

As for Third Street paying the city for any shortfall the garage incurs, Hamner said the corporation will need to talk more with the city.

Hamner said that if the city were afraid that the garage would lose money, then it should consider building the garage and then selling it to a private investor.

On a 294-space garage, a city study estimates a loss of $67,700 the first year, $42,600 the second and $2,000 the third. Then it would begin to make a profit. By the 10th year the city could make over $100,000.

On a 251-space garage, the city is estimated to lose $29,400 the first year and $2,600 the third. Then it would begin to make a profit. By the 10th year the profit could be $113,000.

The numbers were calculated by Bravura, a firm the city hired to design the garage and make cost estimates.

Hamner said she believed that any private investor would jump at a chance to own the garage because of it's long-term profit potential.

She also said that the garage would not just benefit the Hub, but all of the downtown businesses - Main Street shops and restaurants, local banks and Ephriam McDowell Regional Medical Center. She asked why the Hub would have to assume all of the debt and responsibility.

Hamner said that discussions about the money would continue between the corporation and the city.

City Commissioner Jamey Gay, in an e-mail to the newspaper, said that he believed that too much as being made of the "secret tenant," and that the city would need parking downtown no matter what business occupied the Hub.

"Additional parking is a must to create additional jobs by reutilizing existing space," Gay wrote. "We often talk about incentives for downtown businesses. The parking garage is the incentive and will serve as a stimulus for the entire community, not just downtown."

Heart of Danville Executive Director Julie Wagner suggested that the city now concentrate on the types of garage it would want to build.

"Do we need a Mercedes or will a Volvo do?" she asked.

The parking garage steering committee met today at city hall to discuss the garage's features.

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