COLUMBIA — The city has halted design work on the proposed Short Street parking garage while awaiting assurances about construction of a new hotel the garage would serve.
A Thursday memo to the Columbia City Council said staff has suspended design work on the garage by Walker Parking Consultants.
Concerns were raised at the April 18 council meeting about the city spending money on a garage design “without adequate assurance that the hotel project will be constructed,” the memo stated.
Tony St. Romaine, assistant city manager, said the council was primarily concerned about the city getting too far ahead of the developer.
Plans call for the council to be asked its Monday meeting to decide whether to hold off on additional design work or continue.
Broadway Lodging has yet to secure a franchise for the hotel it plans to build after demolishing the Regency. In an April 21 Missourian report, hotel developer Dave Parmley said Broadway Lodging applied for a DoubleTree franchise and that he was optimistic it would be approved.
In the meantime, the Broadway Lodging is pressing ahead with its own design work and plan to demolish the Regency in November or December, with a new hotel operational in January 2013.
June 7 is the city's deadline for developers to secure a franchise, St. Romaine said.
“My goal is that by the June 7 meeting we will have come to an agreement on the parking meter rating increase, and, more importantly, we will have a commitment from the developer Dave Parmley to have a franchise,” St. Romaine said.
The contract between Broadway Lodging and the city has not been finalized, and staff was working with Parmley to make changes in the document about a land agreement with the city for property to build the new garage.
“We don’t want to be acquiring that piece of property if for some reason six months down the road he steps back from the deal or loses his development franchise,” St. Romaine said
According to the memo, a new contract could be ready for the council when it meets May 2.
St. Romaine said the chances of the deal breaking down are small and that changes in the agreement were designed to “protect the city’s investment.”
The deal the city struck with Broadway Lodging requires the garage be “substantially completed when the hotel opens,” the Thursday memo stated. Staff, however, doesn't think the garage can be completed by the time the hotel intends to open unless Walker is allowed to continue its design work.
The council work sessions have been set for May and June on designing the garage as well as a public hearing scheduled for June 20. At that point, Walker would be owed $57,000 of its $514,600 contract.