Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Exit 30 Hotel Parking: Make developer put money where mouth is...

Monday night, the town got its first taste of how the discussion might go with the proposed new Hyatt Place hotel next to CSD.  After picking apart the town staff analysis here where staff sugar coated the proposed 113 space parking plan, staff repeated Monday night the proposition that the proposed plan is comparable to what would be allowed in neighboring towns.  That was disappointing, but not surprising.

Regardless, of whether or not (and the answer is not) the proposed 113 spaces is close to what other jurisdictions might allow, two facts are undeniable.

Those facts are these.

  1. 113 spaces is 36 spaces short of what Davidson's ordinance would require for a 74,500 sq ft commercial building.
  2. This proposal is for a conditional planning area allowing Davidson to apply specific conditions for granting approval.

The 36 space shortfall is significant.  Not only does it represent a 25% variance from the ordinance, it is on top of the fact the 113 spaces included in the plan relies on 30 street parking spots and a shared agreement with neighboring Woodies.  Additionally, the 30 street spaces is more than the street spaces immediately adjacent to the proposed hotel site, meaning the hotel is requesting to use way more than its fare share of street parking in the Exit 30 area.

When one considers the reality of a school next door, maximizing the use of all parking in the area (on-street, off-street and shared) should be considered a top priority for Commissioners.

After Monday's meeting there were a couple of relevent Facebook comments on the Save Davidson page which speak to this.  One comes from someone who knows this part of town well, the other from someone with experience in protecting Davidson from the dais at Town Hall.

Nancy Palmisano who helps lead the Circles@30 Coalition said "it pained me to see the actions of the land owner/developer's physical and verbal responses to questions about CSD and land that surrounds it.  He had no knowledge of how many cars parked on the paved surface of his land.  Neither the board of commissioners or the land owner were aware of a land space in the back of the school that is used as the middle schoolers playground or that there is a small teachers' parking lot behind the school that is adjacent to a piece of land owned by Harris Teeter.

I realize that perhaps this project may still be in a fact finding stage, but I believe they all should have been more interested in these facts long ago...since the proposed hotel will become a "neighbor" of the school and parking, which is already a huge issue will become an even more intense issue for this area and the surrounding area be it a hotel or anything else.  

If the hotel has a parking lot, it will not allow parking for the will be private use only.  If they put on-street parking, it will be no more efficient and actually very dangerous- just as the reverse parking area near the exit driveway of Gethsemane Baptist Church on Jetton Street is.  When those parking spaces are filled, one must take his or her life into their creep out into traffic...hoping the front of their car won't be ripped off by oncoming traffic.

I have alleged many times over that the powers that be do not have a good sense of this side of Davidson and that they approve development in this area without understanding some of the long term ramifications of their decisions/approvals inflicted on the citizens of 'this part of the community'. 

Additionally, thought it rather interesting how the conversation of inlaid crosswalks seemed so important to the "look" around the hotel area.  Would much, much rather attention be given to the serious issues at hand at the Circles @ 30 - not the fluff!

I could elaborate on these statements, but let it suffice to say...the cart should never go before the or ever when citizens lives are involved!  

There is a parking and traffic problem at the Circles@30...the powers that be in this matter need to acknowledge this and work together to not exacerbate the problem."

To that comment former Davidson Commissioner Sandy Carnegie replied "it should always be the Town's responsibility to look after the neighbors of a development. Developers are in the business of maximizing profit. I can remember being told by a few developers that Town decisions were costing them money. Making a little less money to comply with the ordinances and the Town's core values is not a bad thing. I cannot remember one single development where a developer volunteered to lose some money to benefit the surrounding properties. The protection of the neighbors comes from the Town placing those restrictions on the developer." (emphasis added)

Fortunately, the Town has options in this case because this hotel is proposed as a conditional planning amendment, and as the name implies the Town can put conditions on the developer to get approval.  So, in the spirit of that and with the staff analysis in hand here are some proposed additional conditions the developer should jump at if the developer is willing to stand behind its own numbers.
  1. Make new hotel sign a parking sharing agreement with CSD where CSD can access the hotel off-street lot prior to 6pm.  After 6pm is the stated peak time for the Hotel.  During the day when school needs are highest there should be excess capacity in the hotel lot.
  2. Make the Developer, who also operates Homewood Suites, allow their small side lot to be public parking.  This lot has about 21 spots.  The analysis presented by the developer says Homewood's parking is only 84% occupied on sold out nights.  An aerial of this site on Polaris shows 131 spots including this side lot.  Making this side lot public would provide a number of spots during the day for the area in general.  It would allow the Homewood suites hotel to still have 84% of its total available in its remaining parking.  Finally, those spots would be available at night for hotel guests if needed.  From observation, this week, it does appear Homewood uses this lot for staff and vehicle storage parking.  Those uses would need to be moved to Homewood's main lot.
  3. Make the developer do a parking payment in lieu to be used somewhere in the Circles@30 area for any number of spots under the required 149 per ordinance.  That would be 13 spots with condition #2 or up to 36 spots without 
#1 should be a deal breaker for the town, non-negotiable.  If the developer is unwilling to agree to it and some combination of #2 and #3, then they aren't willing to stand behind their own analysis to a large degree.  More importantly, if the town staff and Town Board of Commissioners are not willing to impose these conditions, then they are simply not willing to do what is right for the Exit 30 area as a whole.

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