On Monday, April 10, a dozen interested citizens attended the board meeting of the CDRC (Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corporation) to question why the city would contemplate selling a parking lot on King Street (behind St. John’s Restaurant) to a developer for $134,700, when the city bought the parking lot in 2007 for $195,000. Ten of those citizens pointed out that prices of property have increased many fold in the last 10 years on the booming Southside and that Chattanoogans have a right to expect city property to be sold at a price beneficial the public.
The citizens voicing concerns also learned that the developer making the bid of $134,700 offered to rent back to the city the 85 parking spaces now being used by city employees for $140,000 over three years, an amount more than the price the developer had offered to pay for the lot. And yet that same lot was declared “surplus” by vote of the City Council last summer—at the request of the city administration.
I appreciate the CDRC board member who questioned when the last appraisal was completed and found that it was 10 years ago in 2007. The CDRC has now voted that a fair market value appraisal should be completed by an independent appraiser and that a new price should be negotiated for the property with the already selected developer, based on the independent appraisal.
The mayor’s chief of staff has declared that this is not a “done deal” until the CDRC approves. I suggest that the city make a new arrangement with the developer not only on selling price, but also whereby Chattanooga citizens do not supplement this developer’s income by renting back spaces for city employees of the Development Resource Center (just across King Street) who need that “surplus” parking lot now and in the future.
I request the CDRC and the city administration use the motto of the National Association of Counties as their guide: “The wisdom to know and the courage to defend the public interest.”