Beach Parking Garage Faces One More Issue
Approval May, or May Not, Be Made at Tonight's Council Meeting
By Carl Wagenfohr
CLEARWATER -After being delayed twice this year to negotiate terms of the complicated relationship between the city and L.O.M. for a beach parking garage, Tuesday's City Council worksession was intended to be simply a review of the completed agreement in advance of its approval at Thursday's public hearing.
It was not.
"Council, we have one outstanding issue unresolved, and that relates to the Parking Covenant," City Attorney Pam Akin said on Tuesday of the pending contract.
The construction of the parking garage would occur at L.O.M.'s expense, with the city reserving $9.3-million to cover a "Put" provision of the agreement that would require the city to purchase the garage if L.O.M.'s lender foreclosed on the project within 5 years of its completion.
In exchange for providing the garage, L.O.M. would receive 35 feet of South Gulfview Blvd right of way adjacent to its property. A mixed-use garage/retail/restaurant facility would be constructed on the combined vacated right of way and L.O.M.'s existing land.
The Parking Covenant would require that the property maintain 300 public parking spaces for a term of 30 years, with automatic renewals for successive 10 year periods. From the city's perspective, the covenant is required essentially as a payment in exchange for the vacated 35 feet of right of way fronting Beach Walk.
But from L.O.M.'s viewpoint, the Covenant's virtually perpetual requirement for 300 parking spaces could cause problems if the structure was ever completely or partially destroyed. Akin explained that L.O.M. was concerned that future changes in land development regulations could prevent them from rebuilding the required number of spaces.
If the 300 spaces continued to be required within a smaller footprint imposed by future regulations, L.O.M. might be forced to reduce the size of its retail and restaurant components, adversely affecting the financing and profitability of their enterprise.
"Their preference is that the Parking Covenant go away," Akin said.
"If, in fact, the developer is concerned about not being able to redevelop their retail without taking away the people's parking, we're just as concerned about the developer keeping the people's 35 feet of right of way on the Gulf of Mexico and not getting the parking. So if they want a reduction in parking, then we want our right of way back," observed Councilmember John Doran.
"We need to discuss what we can come up with as a compromise position," Akin said at the conclusion of Council discussion on Tuesday, "and we will do that today [Tuesday]."
As of the Gazette's publication, the city has not released the results of its ongoing negotiations with L.O.M. on the Parking Covenant. The City Council will meet tonight at 6 pm in City Hall; the fate of the parking garage is uncertain.
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