Archive for Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Downtown property owners respond to expanded parking plan

September 18, 2012


City Manager David Corliss said he can’t say with certainty that now is the right time to spend $1 million to add 72 new parking spaces in downtown Lawrence.

“But I know now is the right time to ask the question,” Corliss said Tuesday.

Thus far, the answer City Hall largely has received is silence.

Who would pay assessments

Here’s a list of the parcels and their owners who would have assessments of more than $10,000 to pay for a proposed 72-space, $1 million expansion of a planned parking garage at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

Property owners would have the option to pay the amount in one lump sum, or over a 10-year period with interest.

• 612 N.H.: Postal Investors LC, $11,664

• 727 Ky. (Tract 1): City of Lawrence, $54,067

• 727 Ky. (Tract 2): City of Lawrence, $54,168

• 609 N.H.: The World Company, $26,898

• 645 Vt.: United States Postal Service, $27,033

• 700 N.H.: Agree LP, $26,363

• 700 N.H.: City of Lawrence, $11,273

• 734 Vt.: Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., $10,216

• 730 N.H.: 8th and New Hampshire LLC, $10,378

• 800 Vt.: City of Lawrence, $22,146

• 800 N.H.: City of Lawrence, $12,741

• 100 E. Ninth: Compton Rentals LLC, $10,541

• 847 Mass.: 9-10 LC, $10,547

• 927 N.H.: City of Lawrence, $18,186

• 900 Vt.: City of Lawrence, $12,646

• 925 Vt.: Plymouth Congregational Church, $10,600

• 1011 Vt.: Trinity Episcopal Church, $14,797

• 1000 Vt.: City of Lawrence, $10,471

• 1000 N.H.: Allen Realty Inc., $14,731

• 1040 Mass.: Allen Press Inc., $10,525

• 115 W. 11th St.: City of Lawrence, $15,669

• 707 Vt.: City of Lawrence, $54,169

Fewer than 10 property owners and downtown merchants showed up for a Tuesday morning meeting to discuss a proposal to create a special 10-year property tax assessment to pay for an expansion of the proposed parking garage that will be next to the renovated Lawrence Public Library.

City leaders took the lack of large-scale opposition as a sign that downtown businesses understand the importance of having an adequate supply of parking.

“If you have a person try two or three times to find parking and can’t, in their mind, you are out of parking and they don’t come back,” said Mayor Bob Schumm, who is also a restaurant owner in downtown. “And once that happens, it is very hard to erase that perception.”

City officials are proposing to add a special assessment onto the property tax bills of downtown owners to pay for the addition of 72 parking spaces to the proposed library parking garage. The library expansion project includes funding for a 250-space parking garage, but city leaders want to know whether downtown property owners would be willing to fund 72 additional spaces. The city contends the project likely will be cheaper to do now than in the future because construction crews already will be on site.

Under the plan, property owners would pay based on the size of their downtown lot. Currently, the city is proposing owners pay 42.6 cents per square foot of land owned in the downtown district. The city would allow property owners to pay the amount up front or to have the payments spread out over 10 years at an interest rate estimated to be between 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent.

A typical 25-foot wide lot on Massachusetts Street would pay $1,278 or about $130 a year, if paid over a 10-year period.

The amounts will be more significant for owners of larger property. The city estimates there are 22 parcels that will owe more than $10,000 through the special assessment. The city’s proposal would charge all types of property, including churches and other non-profit organizations.

Pat Kehde, a vestry member for Trinity Episcopal Church, said the $14,797 bill for the expansive church at 1011 Vt. would be challenging.

“We’re having a hard time seeing how we benefit from this,” said Kehde. “We understand that this is for the common good of downtown, but it is still a lot of money.”

Corliss said city commissioners do have the ability under state law to shrink the size of the district that is assessed the special tax. But he said state law also says the city should exempt property based on its location, not its use.

Property owners in the downtown do have options for trying to stop the taxing plan. Corliss said the law states if owners of more than 50 percent of the lots in the downtown district and owners of more than 50 percent of the total acreage in the downtown district formally protest the plan through a petition, the special assessment can not proceed.

The city of Lawrence, however, is estimated to own about 35 percent of the property in the downtown district. The city of Lawrence will charge itself the special assessment for the property it owns, meaning the city at-large will pay for about $325,000 of the estimated $1 million parking project. City property such as the library and Watson Park have the largest estimated assessments in the district.

City officials are holding another meeting for downtown property owners and businesses at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H. City commissioners are scheduled to hold a public hearing on the taxing plan at their 6:35 p.m. meeting on Sept. 25 at City Hall. Property owners will have 20 days after that hearing to gather enough signatures for a valid protest petition.

Even if a valid protest petition isn’t filed, city commissioners still can still decide to stop the project if they sense significant objections from property owners or businesses.

But some business owners on Tuesday — especially after they learned they could spread the payments over 10 years — said they hoped the city would move forward with the extra parking.

“I’m willing to pay for it,” said Linda Lester, owner of The Etc. Shop, 928 Mass. “I think it is inexpensive parking compared to what we have paid for parking in the past.”


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 7 months ago

The sidewalks need to be wider so more bubble gum can accumulate. Same for alleys downtown. GREASE. Needs more room. What happened to the dog litter enforcement? Oh I forgot the city is now going to register 4 unrelated in PD. zoning. Boredom in the planning dept. and who gets the Peter Princlple Award at City Hall. forb2012


Kontum1972 1 year, 7 months ago

i have never wanted to park downtown on the main drag...its a joke i don't mind parking somewhere else....esp. with some of the idiots texting and trying to find a place to park. Some of these people need to walk what next making the side walks wider to accommodate the large loads waddling down the sidewalks stuffing there faces. Someone at city hall needs to take a pay cut to show good faith as a leader....i was told by a city worker they were told they could be fired anytime...on a whim by big daddy. OBTW...that little burg in Arkansas is loving having that music festival down in their town....they are laughing all the way to the bank.


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 7 months ago

Not one downtown business will go dry if the customers pay 25cents for two hours at a meter in the lots. Not one person at the chuches will stop praying on Sunday if they pay 25cents to go to church. Now the Christian church has their own lot. So if you are Episcopal, then convert to Disciples of Christ and park for free.

All downtown apartment dwellers can pay to park. 25cents for two hours 24/7. Cheap price.


patkindle 1 year, 7 months ago

if you have trouble parking downtown, you are either only going there at peak times, or you are just too lazy to walk a block or so... just keep milking the downtown businesses, when the cow runs dry we can all park at walmart


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 7 months ago

You have to love it. The City of Lawrence is listed as an owner in the "benefit" district. Now how does the city get money to pay their share. We have some real dingbats in the belfry


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 7 months ago

Since the Journal World won't ask the question, I will.

What is the land value of each and every parking lot downtown and stall on Mass and side streets?

How does paying someone with a piece of chalk make sense. Meter all parking and be done with it. The merchants can buy tokens from City Hall for their employees and/or give them to customers.

Corliss should ask that question of the commissoners. Oh, I forgot the commissioners are amateurs and respond only to a few developers. This commisson has run of real money but instead caters to a few local architects who need work, can't get it elsewhere and likewise the construction industry as well.

BTW, meters are going in the lot next to Treanor's new building. As for Mrs. Kehde, would the congregation complain if they each paid 25 cents for two hours on Sunday at a meter behind kinko's. Right now it is free and no one else can park. What would Jesus pay?


LJ Whirled 1 year, 7 months ago

Square footage seems a bit illogical as a basis for this assessments ... government buildings, churches, printing plants, etc., are quite large, but do not require much (if any) public parking. This is a thinly veiled subsidy for downtown retailers + hotel.


Currahee 1 year, 7 months ago

They can spend $70 million on frivolous crap but they're wavering on a measly $1 million?


FarneyMac 1 year, 7 months ago

There is plenty of parking in downtown Lawrence; people are just lazy and hate walking more than half a block. In any real city, people don't mind walking 3-4 minutes to get where they're going. But god forbid some west Lawrence soccer mom in yoga pants can't park her SUV directly outside the boutique she wants to shop at. Or god forbid some mildly overweight moron have to park their rusted-out Chevy Celebrity more than half a block away from Creation Station. Or pick your stereotype - people are dumb regardless.


MacHeath 1 year, 7 months ago

BTW. I haven't been to Schumm's restaurant in years, and it has nothing to do with the parking.


MacHeath 1 year, 7 months ago

I know a lot of folks that never go downtown, and not just because of the parking problem. You can moan about laziness all you want, but the fact remains the same. Most folks like convince, good prices, and selection. Quaint shops or no, a LOT of people will not shop downtown. This over-priced, 74 stall parking lot will not help. I am getting damned tired of subsidizing these g-damned contractors.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

WE never have a problem finding parking in downtown Lawrence. Sometimes we ride bikes or walk.

Nonetheless we have never had a problem finding parking for downtown Lawrence.


lunacydetector 1 year, 7 months ago

did the city send out notifications to all the downtown property owners? i bet money they did not.


grimpeur 1 year, 7 months ago

BTW, the garage was about $15,000/space. Back then. Anybody know how many of these precious stalls we're going to give away to private interests?


grimpeur 1 year, 7 months ago

Schumm: “If you have a person try two or three times to find parking and can’t, in their mind, you are out of parking and they don’t come back.”

The answer is: that person might try looking somewhere other than on Mass St. Anyone who can't find a space is simply not looking very hard or lazy as heck. That's why there's a 495-space garage that is within three blocks of every retail establishment downtown.

The idea that three blocks is too far to walk is a sad reminder of the softness of our citizenry. It's not only weak-minded, it's expensive (because it drives construction of more unnecessary parking, which encourages more unnecessary driving) and perpetuates the myth that there is not enough parking downtown. This myth, along with our encouragement to hop in a car and drive every 0.25-mile trip we take because we don't have sufficient sidewalks, transit, or sense of civic responsiblity, is the most expensive problem in Lawrence.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

"The city of Lawrence will charge itself the special assessment for the property it owns, meaning the city at-large will pay for about $325,000 of the estimated $1 million parking project."

This is going to be paid by others than those downtown business owners. Like you,me and all other taxpayers. Which means thousands of local property owners can legitimately sign a petition. All Lawrence property owners are stakeholders.


MacHeath 1 year, 7 months ago

thats 14,000 bucks per parking space...really? Does that mean that the church would get one free parking space? What a deal of them! Maybe they can park the church van there!

If the Eldridge house needs a parking garage, why can't they build one at their own expense. I really can't see this parking garage being a benefit to anyone...except the El-drudge. Hey, I need a new outbuilding, maybe I can get all my neighbors to pay for it!


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 7 months ago

Corliss and the commissioners do not have the guts to meter all of the loys and let. Parking pay for parking.Get rid of the lady with a piece of chalk. Pay seven days a week to park. It's a no brainier. But as some say. "can' t. Fix stupid"


Keith Richards 1 year, 7 months ago

Seems like 95% of the people who will use the garage will be using the library, the pool, or the Eldridge. There has to be a more fair way to spread these costs than to dump $15k on a church whose patrons undoubtedly will never use the space.


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