What’s going on with the Westin Hotel-February One Place parking deck project?

Not much.

According to City Manager David Parrish construction could start as early as this week on the parking deck which will stretch from East Market Street along Davie Street and over February One Place.  A Westin Hotel will be built on top of the city owned parking deck.  Parrish said that the details of the contract have been worked out and the only thing holding up construction is having a signed contract.

Since the city has been in contract negotiations for over a year, it seems like that is good news.

The problem is that Parrish said essentially the same thing on June 18.  When asked about the status of the Westin Hotel deal on June 18 Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that she understood the contract had been signed. Then when Parrish was asked the same question, he said not quite yet but that he expected to sign the contract later that week and as soon as the contract was signed, construction should start within days.

Monday, July 8 Parrish said that he had taken a few days off the week of July Fourth, but that as far as he knew he had not received the contract back from the developer.  He added that he knew the developer wanted to start construction this week, and he didn’t know why the latest contract hadn’t been returned for his signature.  He said all the issues had been worked out and at this point it was a matter of getting language that the attorneys for both parties approved.

When you consider the history of the project and what the City Council has been told, it’s incredible that in July 2019 no contract has been signed and no construction has taken place.  In December 2017 the City Council was told that it needed to condemn the easement owned by Rocky Scarfone the owner of the N Club and Cone Denim Entertainment Center on South Elm Street. The easement ran across the parking lot where the parking deck is to be built.  The Council was told if the easement wasn’t condemned, it would hold up construction.

Scarfone sued and that led to a settlement in April, 2018 of about $1 million with Scarfone and another property owner that also had rights to the easement.  The settlement was at the time said to be necessary because not having the easement issue resolved was holding up construction.  Scarfone came back in August 2018 with more demands and reached a second agreement with the city for air rights over the alley behind the Cone Entertainment building, again the reason for the second settlement agreement was that a law suit would delay construction.

According to what the City Council was told, all the impediments to starting construction were finally cleared up with that second agreement with Scarfone in August 2018.

Almost year later with all the easement issues settled, construction is still being held up by something, but nobody involved will say what exactly it is.