Development proposals for the High Rock plot behind City Hall have generated a great deal of passion as evident from the comments on this site. One unpleasant aspect of this conflict has been the bitter personal attacks on City Center Executive Director Mark Baker. As I have noted in my previous blogs, I have found Mark to be open and I have found his responses to issues I have raised with him consistently accurate and thoughtful. As the readers of this blog have seen, I approach all issues with considerable skepticism.
While I was away at the time of his recent presentation to the City Council on the City Center’s proposed parking structure, I watched the video and I found his presentation extraordinarily clear and his response to questions incisive. I know that there will be readers of this blog who will take considerable exception to my view on this. For those of you who are still open on this issue I would very much urge you to watch the video and decide for yourselves both about the substance of the City Center’s proposal and how you found Mark Baker in his exchanges with the City Council. Link To Mark Baker Presentation. Move the timer to 20:50
Mark’s presentation covered everything from the history of the City Center and the proposal for a parking structure which has been in the works for several years, to showing detailed drawings of the plans and how they have evolved, to the plans for financing their proposal. One of the more interesting components of the plans, I thought, was the inclusion of an agora or partially open plaza on the first floor of the structure which can be used as a community space for the Farmer’s Market, First Night, etc. Unlike the other parking structures that have been built in the city, the City Center’s structure will be staffed with 24 hour security. While the Hyman and Paramount proposals would cover the entire lot, the City Center proposal would cover only one third of the High Rock plot leaving the rest of the area for future development. I have to say the amount of detail given was in sharp contrast to the much sketchier plans and financial accountings put forth by the respondents to the High Rock RFP.
City Attorney Vince deLeonardis also did, I thought, an excellent job reviewing the proposed lease between the City Center and the City Council to build the parking structure. Two hearing dates were set with a Council vote planned for April.
John Franck engaged in a lengthy Q and A with Mark Baker about the finances of the City Center proposal. An interesting, prolonged conversation. One I would like to see him have with Paramount and Hyman.
Take a look for yourself at Mark Baker’s presentation, the city attorney’s explanation of the lease, and Commissioner Franck’s questioning. Here’s the link
There will be more time for discussion and input before the Council votes.