A city parking lot on the corner of Andy Devine Avenue and Third Street will remain in city hands for the time being. City Council members were reluctant to sell the lot Tuesday evening, but were willing to consider leasing it to the new owner of the Hotel Brunswick.
Warner Fleischmann, who bought Hotel Brunswick in May, asked the city to consider selling him the lot so he could have a parking area for his customers. He has asked the community for help in determining what to do with the hotel. Some possible ideas include turning it into an office building or apartments, or leaving it as a hotel.
In order to sell the lot, the city would have to get it appraised, said City Development Services Director Gary Jeppson. He also pointed out that parking is always at a premium downtown, especially during special events.
Mayor John Salem asked if there were options other than selling the lot, such as leasing it to Fleischmann.
Jeppson said the city could consider doing that.
Isn't it already available to hotel customers, Councilwoman Janet Watson asked.
It is, but on a first-come, first-serve basis, Jeppson said. Fleischmann was asking for exclusive use of the parking lot for his customers.
"Not to discourage anyone, and I'm not saying this will, but I've seen a lot of people with really good ideas start something and not succeed downtown," Watson said. "What happens to the lot if we sell it and Mr. Fleischmann's plans don't succeed? I'd like to wait until he gets closer to a plan for the building."
"There's not a lot of open parking downtown. This is a huge asset to the community. I'd hate to see it not available for the public," said Councilwoman Erin Cochran.
Councilwoman Carole Young pointed out that according to Arizona Revised Statues, the city would have to accept bids and sell it to the highest and best bidder.
There was no guarantee that Fleischmann would get the lot, she said. She preferred to lease it.
Salem said he, too, would prefer to lease it. Even when the Brunswick was in full swing as a restaurant, bar and hotel, parking didn't seem to be a problem for it.
A least one downtown business owner Zell Henderson agreed with Council. He asked Council not to sell the property or at least wait until they found out what Fleischmann's plans for the hotel were.
There is too little public parking downtown, he said.
Councilman Richard Anderson asked if city staff had a master plan of the available parking for the downtown area. It might be easier to make a decision if Council knew exactly what parking was available.
Salem suggested Council take no action on the item until it hears from Fleischmann. The other members of Council agreed and they moved on to the next agenda item.
Council also approved a new ordinance to bring the city's building permit fees for solar projects into line with Arizona Revised Statutes. The statutes mandate that the city is not allowed to charge a person installing a solar device more than what it costs the city to inspect the device and issue a permit.
Council also adopted a fee schedule for permits to place manufacture housing within the city limits.
The council members and the mayor also signed a City Council Code of Ethics and Core Values.