A split Lawrence City Commission endorsed the plan March 4, but Tuesday's decision would seal the deal for public parking spaces in a new private lot downtown.
It's time for Lawrence city commissioners to sign a deal to bring 67 public parking spaces to a private lot planned alongside a new downtown bookstore.
Tuesday night, commissioners will consider approving a written agreement with Agree Realty and Winter Inc. to give the city control of 67 parking spaces in the Winter block, which is bounded by New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Seventh and Eighth streets.
The two companies have a deal to build a Borders bookstore at 700 N.H., incorporating two exterior walls of a former livery stable. All other buildings in the block would be demolished.
Commissioners already have agreed, in concept, to pay for the publicly controlled parking spaces. Mayor John Nalbandian joined Commissioners Jo Andersen and Bonnie Augustine in deciding that the deal was a worthwhile investment and likely the cheapest downtown parking the public could ever expect.
"If you like this project, this is good evidence of a public-private partnership," Nalbandian said March 4, when commissioners approved the Borders site plan. "If you don't like this project, it's corporate welfare."
During that meeting, more than a dozen people urged commissioners not to enter the deal, which commissioners later approved on a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Allen Levine and Bob Moody opposed the payment.
If authorized, Nalbandian would sign the document following Tuesday's 6:35 p.m. meeting at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.
Construction of the Borders store is expected to begin on or before May 1, according to the agreement.
Staffers were still working on the document's precise wording Friday, but City Manager Mike Wildgen said it would include the following provisions:
- The city would pay the project's developers $100,000, in exchange for construction and "control" of 67 parking spaces.
- Forty spaces would be built during the project's first phase, which includes construction of the bookstore. The remaining spaces would be provided after development of a mixed-use building at the northeast corner of Eighth and New Hampshire.
- If the mixed-use building is not built within two years of Borders' opening, the city either would get control of 27 more spaces in the Borders lot, or another 27 would be built elsewhere on the block.
- The city would "control" the 67 spaces forever -- that is, the city would be able to set time limits, issue tickets, tow vehicles and otherwise restrict use of the spaces. The city could not, however, install parking meters.
- Developers of the block would build the city's spaces and retain maintenance responsibilities. The city would not be responsible for repairing potholes, plowing snow, paying for lights or any other maintenance activities.