Joseph Cranney , firstname.lastname@example.org; 239-213-60358:13 p.m. EDT October 24, 2016
A Naples board overseeing the downtown redevelopment district gave preliminary approval Monday to a real estate developer’s request to buy $500,000 in city parking credits needed for a redevelopment on Fifth Avenue South, a proposal that some describe as a short-changing of taxpayers.
The advisory board for the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency voted 4-2 to approve the proposal from Angele and Hadley Warwick for parking credits that satisfy requirements for their planned three-story retail and condo project at 505 Fifth Ave. S.
The approval of the credits, which still requires final review by the City Council, includes a cost of $20,000 for each of the project’s 25 required parking spaces.
William Frantz, an advisory board member who opposed the Warwicks’ proposal, said the city should be charging more per space.
“I really think – we really have to represent all the people in Naples,” Frantz said.
Frantz pointed to a city resolution from 2008 that set the price of the city’s parking credits at $28,900 per space, based on an analysis from city staff. Adjusted for inflation, that price is now $32,400 per space.
“We’re giving the developer a $300,000 discount, which doesn’t seem fair to me to the rest of the people of Naples,” Frantz said. “I do think the building is beautiful, but that significant discount bothers me.”
The Warwicks asked to pay $20,000 per space after the council approved that price for parking credits on another downtown redevelopment last year.
Board member Stephen Swain also voted against the Warwicks’ proposal and said the price of the credits was too low.
John Nocera, a member who supported the proposal, asked the board to look at the project’s “overall picture.”
“The taxes that are going to be levied on that property is going to blow that all away,” Nocera said about the project, which will include 7,400 square feet of ground-floor retail space and eight condos on the second and third floors. “And what we’re doing to the area is a total improvement.”
The council last month approved the project’s building design, which was reviewed separately from the parking proposal.
John Passidomo, the Warwicks’ lawyer presenting the project to the city, estimated the project’s positive economic impact on the CRA at $3.5 million.
The council adopted a parking-credit price in 2008 and began allowing real estate developers to contribute money to the CRA, on a cost-per-space basis, when parking requirements couldn’t be fulfilled on site.
The Fifth Avenue parking requirements call for 39 spaces on the Warwicks’ project, but they proposed including just 13 spaces on their third-of-an-acre lot at Fifth Avenue South and Fifth Street South.
As for the remaining required 26 spaces, they requested adding a space of on-street parking, at no cost to the city, and buying the rest in credits.
Last December, the council agreed to reduce the price of the city’s parking credits from $32,000 to $20,000 for a project planned near Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street South. At the same meeting, a motion to charge $15,000 per space failed.
Councilman Doug Finlay, opposing last year’s proposal, called it a “disservice” to the city and said it would set a precedent for other developers to ask for the lower price.
“If you were right about the price in 2008, it is certainly worth more in 2015,” Finlay said.