Grubs, WAC parking lot top choices for parking deck

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 177 views 

The city of Fayetteville’s search for a downtown parking deck site includes an expensive site that’s more flexible and a preferred site that comes with lots of complications.

About 15 people attended each of two public input sessions Wednesday and toured four proposed sites in Fayetteville’s Dickson Street entertainment district.

The two most feasible sites include the existing Walton Arts Center parking lot and property south of the arts center, which includes the administrative offices of the WAC and a building leased to Grubs Bar and Grille, officials said. The two other sites are adjacent to the south and east of the theater site, officials said. (See map image below or in photo box.)

Fayetteville Utilities Director David Jurgens would not say which of the sites he preferred, but he discounted the south and east sites as too small and causing too much of a negative impact on neighboring property owners. The parking lot site is the largest, flat and offers the “most flexibility,” he said.

The theater site is the most desirable because it is the closest to the Arts Center and can provide closer, safer and covered access to the facility, while also allowing for possible cost savings, but is also the most complicated to plan and coordinate, he said. The theater site also has the least impact on traffic and existing parking during construction, he added.

Fifty employees could lose their job if Grubs loses its lease and the restaurant closes, said Mauri Edwards, a manager at Grubs, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

“Why tear something down when you are trying to keep Fayetteville funky?” she said in reference to the marketing slogan: Keep Fayetteville Funky.

Jurgens said it is possible that the Grubs location could be spared, depending on where the parking deck is located on the site, but the administrative office will have to be torn down and rebuilt if the city council picks that site.

The city plans to build a net total of 300 new parking spots, so if it chooses to build on the current WAC parking lot, it will have to build a parking deck big enough to house 450 cars, which raises the cost, he explained.

It may be cheaper to tear down the administrative offices and relocate them into the parking facility design than building the larger deck on the parking lot site, Jurgens said.

If the theater site is chosen, the city will have to continue to work closely with WAC officials to provide for their future needs, he said.

Regardless of which site is picked, the city wants to get the most for its money, while blending in with the entertainment district.

“We are trying to get as many spaces as we can from the money available—something that matches the feel, the ambiance, the décor ..,” Jurgens said.

Former Fayetteville Mayor Dan Coody warned against taking “a piecemeal approach.” He said in an interview that he favors the theater site if the city and the Walton Arts Center first develop a master plan before moving forward. Without this well-developed master plan, the parking lot site is the best, Coody said.

Coody wants to be sure the city follows its master plan, he said. He suggested selling some of the land where the current parking lot is located to commercial developers to help defray the cost of the project. 

Fayetteville expects to collect about $900,000 this year from entertainment district parking, according to Paul Becker, the city’s finance director. These funds will repay construction bonds expected to net the city about $5.6 million, he said

Preliminary test bores at the parking lot and theater sites have not discovered any large underground voids, said Nathan Beckhell, a project manager for Garver Engineers.

Washington County’s recently completed parking deck suffered large cost overruns because of unexpected underground voids.

PUBLIC COMMENTS
The City of Fayetteville taking public comments through Monday (April 9)  on the site selection for a parking deck to be constructed in Fayetteville’s Dickson Street entertainment district.

Click here for more information.