Land and business owners agreed Monday to work with each other and the town to find a parking-deck solution that could limit the effect on property values, public access and customers.
Mayor Pam Hemminger held the meeting in response to emails from landowner P.H. Craig, who inferred from an earlier meeting with town staff that the town would use eminent domain – the public purchase of land – if he and others didn’t sell.
Eminent domain is not an option, Hemminger said, and they don’t want to harm anyone’s property. The town is looking for parking solutions that will support more office space downtown, she said.
“We’ve got to figure out some way to make this happen,” Hemminger said. “Otherwise, I’ll be honest with you, we’re kind of stuck where we are if we don’t build parking or we don’t increase parking somewhere.”
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“It doesn’t have to be right in that spot if there are other opportunities and we’re willing to talk about it,” she said.
A recent proposal identified several lots extending east from South Robeson Street for a 450-space parking deck. The town is considering whether to work with Legacy Real Property Group to redevelop the town-owned parking lot at 415 W. Franklin St. The parking deck would replace that lot.
The Town Council expects to review financial and development details in June. No formal plans have been submitted.
6-story building planned
The redevelopment proposal calls for building a six-story, 95,000-square-foot building on the half-acre parking lot – between 411 West restaurant and Carolina Ale House. The building could include ground-floor retail, an entertainment venue, office space and apartments, including 15 lower-cost units.
The four-story parking deck is shown to the west, with an entrance on South Robeson Street. Craig owns most of the land; Carrboro resident James Pendergraft and The Dilweg Companies, which owns The Courtyard, hold two additional lots.
They are not interested in selling their land, Craig and Pendergraft said, but they might be willing to lease it to the town. Craig already leases his lots to the town for parking under an agreement negotiated in 2014 when plans for a parking deck at The Courtyard fell apart.
Dilweg representatives were not at Monday’s meeting.
The town had the lots appraised in January. The appraiser valued Craig’s five parcels at roughly $1.3 million, Pendergraft’s lot at $229,000, and part of The Courtyard’s property at $499,000, according to reports.
Those appraisals were “misleading and false,” said Craig, a real estate investor and former town appraiser. He shared a letter from a Raleigh appraiser, Douglas Winner, who called the parking deck an “ill conceived project as it is currently laid out” that would hurt the value of and access to other lots.
Craig said he and Joe Riddle, who owns the Carolina Ale House lot and other parcels, have talked before about building a parking deck on their land behind the Ale House and the town’s parking lot.
Drivers could access that parking deck if the town builds a one-way street across its lot, he said. The street could circle around the Ale House and exit on Basnight Lane, next to Lantern restaurant.
It would increase the redevelopment potential for land behind the West Franklin Street businesses, he said, and also add significant value to the town lot. It also could ease a dangerous situation for drivers who now enter and exit on Basnight Lane through a 13-foot-wide alley.
A cantilever support could allow additional stories to be built above the street for offices and apartments, he said. One side could be supported by steel beams, with a foundation on the other side, making it tall and wide enough for firetrucks, he said.
Others, including 411 West officials, are worried the redevelopment, depending on how it proceeds, could put businesses and jobs at risk.
“Every business on that end of town is going to be (affected),” 411 West partner Tommy O’Connell said. “There’s not a lot when you take that one away. You’re going to see places dropping like flies, and those are real jobs that are going to be lost.”