Sleight of hand might best describe what happened to make the financial arrangements for the February One-Westin Hotel parking deck disappear from the resolution passed by the Greensboro City Council at the meeting Tuesday, Aug. 20.
On the agenda was a resolution to set up $38 million in financing for the two parking decks. The afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 21, the city website still had the resolution for $38 million financing the Eugene Street and February One parking decks.
But that was not the resolution the City Council had in its possession and passed.
The resolution the City Council passed was for $33 million for the Eugene Street parking deck. The February One parking deck was completely removed from the resolution.
Assistant City Manager Larry Davis did answer a question from Councilmember Sharon Hightower about the February One parking deck saying, “Nothing allocates funds for February One.” He explained that he was talking about the revised resolution that the City Council had and said that it only applied to the Eugene Street parking deck.
But there was no explanation as to why the resolution was changed, and when the agenda item was read by Mayor Nancy Vaughan, she didn’t note that the resolution had been changed from the one provided to the public or that the February One parking deck had been dropped from the resolution.
A speaker on the agenda item, Hester Petty, also asked questions about the financing and, although she was told the total amount had been lowered from $38 million to $33 million, she was not told that the February One parking deck had been dropped from the resolution. Since her next questions and comments were about the Westin Hotel, which is part of the February One parking deck project, it would have seemed appropriate to inform her that it wasn’t being financed by the resolution before the council.
Instead, Vaughan talked about the need for more hotel rooms in Greensboro.
The fact that the financing for the Eugene Street parking deck was kept in the resolution and approved by the City Council seems backwards because the February One parking deck is much further along than the Eugene Street parking deck. The land for the February One deck was purchased in 2017, and all the easement issues were cleared up by August 2018, while the land for the Eugene Street parking deck was purchased a few weeks ago.
Before the meeting, when City Manager David Parrish was asked when he expected to sign the contract to build the February One parking deck, he said by the end of the month.
That answer seems to indicate that the city and the developer are close to reaching an agreement, except that Parrish has been making similar statements for months.
On Tuesday, June 18, Parrish said that he thought the contract would be signed by the end of the week. On July 8, Parrish said that because he had taken some days off that the contract could be on his desk waiting for his signature. Earlier this month Parrish said that it would be signed soon.
In June, Vaughan said that she thought the contract may have been signed and if it had not it would be signed in a few days.
Both Parrish and Vaughan continue to say that there are no problems and that nothing major is holding up the project. Parrish has said several times that it is simply a matter of getting “language” everyone can agree on but that all the issues have been worked out.
So why, at the very last minute, was the February One parking deck pulled from the financing resolution? Why wasn’t the public notified of the change and why didn’t a single city councilmember ask why they were being asked to approve a financing plan that was markedly different from the one that was included in their original agenda packet?