Council Roundup: 700 Parking Spaces for Downtown Highrise

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Plans for EdisonLand, LLC’s multimillion dollar mixed-use development downtown continue to move forward. City Councilors approved several items for the project relating to parking lease agreements between EdisonLand and the City.

The Blount Street Parking Deck was completed in 2008 to accommodate the needs of PNCTower and the future Edison Land development. This large-scale development will include two mixed-use buildings with retail and residential space.

Councilors had previously approved leasing almost 700 spaces within the deck to EdisonLand, but their actions yesterday would finalize those agreements.

The parking spaces set aside in both leases will be used by the residents and patrons of the developed property. The two 20-year leases include 696 parking spaces for a total of $19.2 million.

The city will still be able to use unused parking spaces to generate revenue during the lease.

EdisonLand, LLC has the ability to purchase one or two city-owned retail spaces located within the parking deck, which are unfinished. Together, the spaces are appraised at $600,000.

If construction of the project does not start by 2014 either the City of Raleigh or EdisonLand has the option to back out of the lease agreement.

City Approves Agreement with State for TIGER Grant

Councilors approved a new agreement with the state Department of Transportation that will allow them to use the $21-million federal grant it received for Union Station.

The new downtown train station would replace the existing Amtrak station and also serve high-speed rail and light rail if they were to be constructed.

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) IV grant award will fund the Phase I improvements to Raleigh Union Station. The city has already applied for the TIGER V grant to help pay for additional improvements.

The grant requires a partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Triangle Transit Authority.

Councilor John Odom expressed concern about the city’s financial obligations for the grant.

“What does this cause us to spend of our dollars?” he said.

City Manager Russell Allen said $3 million match has already been budgeted through the 2011 transportation bond. The $3 million can be used as a match for both grants.

Property and Casualty Insurance Broker Contract Decision Delayed

The City of Raleigh currently has a one year contract with Willis of North Carolina for property and casualty insurance broker services. Allen’s request to extend that contract to five years, however, was met with concern by City Council members.

Both Odom and Councilor Eugene Weeks asked why the small business community was not given the opportunity to participate. “We’ve got a lot of small businesses here in the city that would love to have this business and the opportunity to provide a price for providing these services,” said Weeks.

Allen replied that businesses were given a chance to compete for the job a year ago. “We did not find someone locally before who could be that broker and handle all of that work for us,” he said.

The city chose Willis of North Carolina a year ago after reviewing competitive proposals. Their services were tested for the past year, and the city has been satisfied with the level of service Willis has provided, said Allen.

The contract was ultimately referred to the Budget and Economic Development Committee for more discussion.

Walnut Creek Donation

The Walnut CreekWetlandCenter just got a little larger. The City Council voted to accept the donation of a 3-acre piece of land from the Triangle Greenway Council. The donated property will become part of the Walnut CreekWetlandCenter.

The property is located on the south side of Walnut Creek in the floodplain and is adjacent to the existing Walnut Creek Wetland Center site.

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