Wednesday, March 23, 2011

PARKING PUSH: Trib publisher pushes hard for second giant garage

Large downtown land holdings stand to benefit
COLUMBIA, 3/23/11  (Beat Byte) --  With three editorials last week alone, the man who buys ink by the barrel -- Columbia Daily Tribune publisher Hank Waters -- has been spilling barrels of ink -- and pixels -- in a full-on push to get the Columbia City Council to approve a second giant parking garage as part of the Regency Hotel TIF-subsidized redevelopment project in downtown.
Council members earlier this month tabled a move to approve, while Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid and 3rd Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl have led a recent counter-push, questioning the second garage's questionable finances.  Council members approved buying land for the second garage at Monday's meeting. 
Waters -- whose family owns several blocks of flat surface parking land on East Ash Street near Tribune headquarters and the first Garage Mahal -- has led the charge for new parking garages.  Land devoted to flat surface parking should be redeveloped for more profitable uses, former St. Louis Mayor Vince Schoemehl -- and Waters' personal guest -- told city leaders in 2009.  But to redevelop parking lots, first you must replace them, Schoemehl instructed, urging garage construction.
"This encouraging parking utility future is a primary reason the Columbia City Council should move ahead Monday with development of the new parking garage on Short Street next to the proposed Regency Hotel replacement," Waters wrote this Saturday, praising new technology to collect more parking meter fees and fines which could be used to finance more garages. 
"On Monday, the Columbia City Council will revisit a pending decision to build a new parking garage at Short and Walnut streets adjacent to a proposed replacement for the Regency Hotel," Waters wrote one day earlier.  "The decision seems daunting at first glance, but the council should move ahead."

started his final push last Sunday, urging "we must invest in our future. Let us stride toward the future."   A car-filled future, apparently, at a time when fossil fuels are fading, sustainable living is rising, and government budgets are tight, tight, tight!
"City officials are hesitant because the new garage will not pay for itself, requiring a subsidy from on-street parking and a doubling of parking meter rates, according to city staff," Waters wrote in the Sunday editorial, entitled Regency garage: A city investment.  
But forget all that, he urged Council members. "The building needs to be approved quickly for construction in conjunction with the new hotel," he wrote. 

1 comment:

  1. I don't see how this garage would benefit Waters directly (the Trib is nowhere near this), so it must be for one of his old boys' club members.

    The Regency renovation (much like Root's N' Blues) is being pushed by Richard King for the primary benefit of the Blue Note at taxpayer expense. Actually I like the Note and I hate the state of the Regency, so I guess I'd support that if it was a bit more above-board...assuming that's what our tax dollars are for, which is a big assumption.