The city parking deck planned for North Eugene Street passed a significant milestone at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 16 when the City Council passed a resolution approving a complicated real estate transaction that should allow construction on that deck to begin.
The resolution set the terms for Greensboro and Carroll SOPB, LLC owned by Roy Carroll, who also owns this publication, to trade some land and for Carroll SOPB to pay the city $2.3 million for additional land. The result of those transactions is that Carroll will own the street frontage on Bellemeade Street, North Eugene Street and Friendly Avenue and the city will have the necessary land to build the parking deck with access to both Bellemeade and Eugene streets.
City Manager David Parrish told the City Council there was a question about air rights that had to be resolved. He said he planned to handle it the same way the city has handled air rights in the past, but would bring any changes back to the City Council for approval.
Greensboro initially paid Guilford County $5.5 million for the property, so the sale to Carroll reduces the effective price of the land for the parking deck to the city to $3.2 million.
Carroll is scheduled to reveal his plans for the development of that area on Wednesday, May 1 at the Downtown Greensboro Inc (DGI) State of Downtown Greensboro luncheon which will be held at the Hyatt Place that opened in March on the corner of Bellemeade and Eugene and is part of the Carroll Bellemeade development.
So the North Eugene Street parking deck and the private development around it, appears to making progress.
Then there is the proposed parking deck that is supposed to stretch from East Market Street south over February One Place and have a Westin Hotel built over the southern portion of the city owned parking deck.
The February One Place-Westin Hotel parking deck appears to be treading water. In April 2017 the City Council approved building the deck at a maximum cost of $30 million and approved buying the land for the parking deck for $2.1 million. In April 2018 the city settled a lawsuit over the easements across the land the city had purchased for the deck and then settled the same lawsuit again with more concessions in August 2018. Both times the reason for the settlement was said to be so that construction could get underway. But after demolishing the buildings on the site, nothing much has happened.
City Manager David Parrish has said month after month that they are making progress on negotiating the contract with Elm Street Hotel LLC to build the parking deck.
But it is worth noting that in April, 2018 Mayor Nancy Vaughan called Carroll and said that the city was through negotiating with him over the Eugene Street parking deck. At that time the plan was for Carroll to build a mixed use building on top of the city parking deck built on land owned by Carroll. The city scrapped those plans, went back to the drawing board and came up with the current plan where the city will own the parking deck and Carroll will own the property around it. Everyone seems to agree the current plan makes better use of the land.
But so far the city has been willing to negotiate with the Westin Hotel developer for a full year longer than it was willing to negotiate with Carroll and according to Parrish the negotiations aren’t complete.
Last week Parrish, when asked once again said, “We’re making good progress.” But he added “City Council authorized me to negotiate up to a certain number and that’s what I’m doing.”
He said that basically agreement had been reached on the numbers and that the attorneys were formalizing the legal contract.
When asked when a contract might be signed so that work could begin, Parrish said, “May is certainly feasible.”
A contract could be signed in May, but on February 5 of this year, Parrish made almost the same statement about the contract being finished except for some legal work on cost sharing. In February Parrish said, “We’re anxious to get going. We expect to have our own review done by the end of February.”
Back in November 2018 Parrish said that they were making progress and he hoped to have the contract completed by the end of the year.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “We are going to move forward with building that parking deck one way or the other. I believe the hotel group understands this now and that time is of the essence. We need to finalize this.”
She added, “Otherwise we are going to have to go ahead and build the parking deck ourselves.”
When asked why the negotiations had dragged on so long, Vaughan said, “I don’t know that the hotel group really got the message that time was of the essence. When they lost their window of completion by March 2020 they might have lost their initial enthusiasm.”
She added, “Obviously by the time they open the hotel, The Tanger will be in full swing and a lot of great things will be going on downtown.”
And when asked if the city would actually have a contract soon, Vaughan said, “We will have it by May.”
When councilmembers are asked about the project they claim to know no more than what has been said public meetings or reported in the news. One councilmember said they had not received an update on the February One Place-Westin Hotel project this year.