I have to give credit where credit is due. I have gotten a draft copy of the RFP for the city parking lot. Mayor Yepsen moved right along in drafting something to go out. Proposals are due September 29th.
I am reminded of the classic: Be careful what you ask for.
The bid is to sell or lease the entire property between Maple Avenue (West), Lake Avenue (South), High Rock (East), and York Street (North). That is pretty much the whole enchilada of our available downtown, public property.
This whole thing seems rushed.
I have a number of immediate concerns.
1. The number of parking spaces in the proposed city center structure is 404. The structure will take up an area that now has 188 parking spaces leaving 263 parking spaces not affected. So if the City Center were successful we would have a total of 619 spaces. The proposal asks for a minimum of 600 spaces and clearly, there would be a need for additional spaces for the other mixed uses. It is important to note that a successful bidder would probably use up all the land so there would not be an opportunity to expand parking there in the future.
2. The RFP would involve either selling or leasing the city property. Do we want to sell this land so that it is permanently gone for other city uses? I am not sure, but it would seem to merit some thought before an RFP is issued.
4. Normally in doing RFP’s the developers are required to provide the earnest money which is meant to insure that they are serious and have some skin in the game to minimize later conflict. No such money is required in this RFP.
4. Related to item #2 and #3, shouldn’t the city do a market value survey to determine how much the land is worth. We have already gone through a painful battle over a previous land purchase and sale. Relying on the proposals from an unknown number of developers who are not required to put up any money creates an opportunity for speculation.