With respect to Casey Carmichael’s letter in the Jan. 19 Mountain Xpress [“Imagine Downtown Without Public Interest Projects], I agree without reservation that Public Interests Projects has done a fine job in leading the downtown revitalization. Without their efforts, downtown would look like it did 20 or 30 years ago and growth, along with its related opportunity (and related problems) wouldn’t have been nearly as significant. The 51 Biltmore project will further improve downtown.
The only issue I take with the 51 Biltmore project is the parking plan. I know that there are some who object to the parking plan based on environmental concerns and certainly those concerns are valid. While I sympathize, convenient parking is necessary in order to maximize the number of residents and tourists who go downtown, and to achieve the maximum financial benefit for the city. What I object to is the cost of the parking … especially when there are other close-in options that I believe have not been seriously considered.
City Council has an obligation to all residents (yes, even those of us who live in the ‘burbs) to spend money as efficiently as possible. If Bothwell is correct, that the city will be spending four times as much for a parking space at 51 Biltmore vs. the cost of a space in the College Street garage, I have to wonder if the price of the 51 Biltmore parking is excessive. I implore City Council to investigate alternatives. For example, can the College Street garage be expanded in a cost-effective manner? Can the new garage planned for the new Performance Arts Center be built larger at lower incremental cost than parking at 51 Biltmore? Both of these options are in my opinion in close enough proximity to 51 Biltmore so as to serve the area effectively. Are there other options, say on South Lexington?
I hope that City Council will study the parking issue further, look at all available options and do what makes the most financial sense to serve the parking needs of “lower” Biltmore.
— Bob Ganz