City Will Not Sell King Street Parking Lot To Developer After All

Thursday, January 4, 2018
The Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corporation (CDRC) voted on Thursday to withdraw the Request for Proposal to sell the city-owned parking lot on King Street to Seaford Investments. 

Board Chair Daisy Madison gave two reasons. She said the successful vendor rescinded his offer and the city determined that it wants to retain ownership.
The narrow lot is used for city employee and fleet parking for the Development Resources Center nearby across the street.
Developer Hiren Desai, who is renovating a former warehouse nearby and building a Moxie Hotel near King and South Market, earlier said he needed the lot for parking. 

The board deferred action on a resolution that would transfer parking lot ownership from the CDRC to the Industrial Development Board (IDB) until city staff completes a review. Accountability for Taxpayer Money (ATM), a public interest advocacy group, has questioned why the property would be transferred to the IDB since that board only holds title to land for companies under PILOT (tax break) agreements. Both the CDRC and the IDB are tax exempt as city entities.

A number of questions were raised about the parking lot since the City Council declared it surplus in 2016. The city bought the lot in 2007 as parking for city employees. In 2017 the CDRC issued an RFP to sell the parcel. Two corporations responded to the RFP. The CDRC was prepared to sell to Seaford Investments at a price much less than the city had paid for it in 2007 and well below its current market value. After questions were raised, an appraisal was done, and the price more than doubled. 

ATM founder Helen Burns Sharp said after the meeting that she was "delighted" that the parking lot would remain in city hands and that the CDRC seems committed to doing more research on property negotiations.

In other business, the board authorized the drafting of an RFP for the management of certain major events (excluding Riverbend) on parcels owned by the CDRC in the Waterfront District.
CARTA staff also gave a report on their management of surface parking lots owned by the CDRC, including Renaissance Park. 

Members of the board are Ms. Madison, City Finance Officer; Stacy Richardson, Mayor Berke's Chief of Staff; Jerry Mitchell, City Council Chair, and developers David Dalton and Julian Bell, III.

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