At the City Commission meeting on April 28th, the commission voted in favor of the rezoning to CC-2 PD on first reading. Commissioner Mitchell made clear the first reading is just a starting point, however, and will not be supported on second reading unless substantial beneficial changes are made to the project.
Many in attendance and the commissioners expressed concerns, mainly around parking. People spoke out against the parking garage structure., echoing sentiments we’ve written about. An appraiser noted that the parking structure is the main factor that would de-value Waterview up to $7.5 million. Numerous public comment expressed concerns about ingress/egress into the parking garage off 3rd street.
Commissioner Mitchell made very good points about the public accessibility of water and her commitment to it. She noted the age of the parking structure to the north of Waterview, and how it will eventually reach the end of its useful life, probably sooner than later. A more district-wide parking solution was hinted at that would remove the proposed garage as well as right the wrong that was done many years ago when the parking structure was built to the north of Waterview Towers.
Related to this project, the Downtown Action Committee just this past week approved off-site parking for a hotel project, this at the corner of Olive and Datura street downtown. All spaces for this project are to be provided in the Evernia Street municipal garage, except a handful of spaces that will be on a small surface lot on-site. This makes a lot of sense as a demand analysis shows that this garage has ample capacity, especially at night when it is most needed. The capacity is well below 50% nearly all the time, and even lower at night. So it can be done.
Commission voted to continue the Palm Harbor Marina discussion to the 26th, on Mitchell’s suggestion. Jeff Speck’s walkability report will be released on the 27th, and so it makes sense for the City/CRA/DDA to have time to incorporate these recommendations into whatever solution is proposed. The City should vote to continue this item as needed so the full report can be digested and a better solution found for all parties.