City manager briefs county on parking

By Burk Krohe

City manager Ron Fehr spoke to county commissioners at Monday’s meeting as part of recently launched effort to increase communication between the city and county.

Fehr updated commissioners on several city projects but much of the discussion came back to parking issues.

He told commissioners the city’s Lot 9 project is underway in the south end redevelopment. A fence has gone up around the site just north of Fort Riley Boulevard. He confirmed that it’s related to the initial phase of the project, which consists of two hotels and a mixed-use building.

The first phase will be the construction of a Candlewood Suites. Fehr said the developer, Flint Hills Square, is doing some preliminary grading work on the site, but does not have a building permit yet. The second phase will be a mixed-use building envisioned to contain retail and restaurants on the first floor and apartment units on the remaining floors. The third phase will be a Holiday Inn Express.

Fehr said he expects the final development plan for the mixed-use building to go to the Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board next month.

“How much additional parking are you going to have?” Commissioner Dave Lewis asked.

Fehr responded, saying each individual project will have a corresponding public parking lot that will be able to handle each building at near full capacity. He added that the parking garage west of the site, which provides more than 400 parking stalls, will provide overflow parking.

Commissioner Karen McCulloh said those stalls would be needed, considering CivicPlus’ plans for expansion. McCulloh was referring to an economic development package, scheduled for final consideration Tuesday, which would provide incentives to build a minimum five-story, 50,000 square-foot building at the corner of Fourth and Pierre streets.

The building is envisioned to have retail and restaurants on the first-floor with the remaining floors serving as high-end offices for the technology firm. There is also the possibility to add residential units.

“We’ve done some analysis of parking,” Fehr said.

Fehr said parking seems to be adequate at the moment but said the city is looking to the future.

“One of the things we’re developing in the budget process for next year is actually a parking facilities budget that looks at all the municipal lots,” Fehr said.

Fehr said parking management is the key. He noted that fines are “pretty low” for violating two-hour parking and added Aggieville and the downtown only has one attendant patrolling both areas.

“That’s a pretty cheap parking pass for $5 a day,” Fehr said.

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