City officials are now accepting bid proposals to develop the empty lot at Northeast 23 Drive and Northeast 11 Avenue into a parking lot.
The bid process was opened last week and interested firms have until Jan. 3 at 2:30 p.m. to submit a proposal. City officials estimate a paved lot will have 23 parking spaces available and could cost as much as $230,000 or more to develop. But the actual cost will depend on the winning bid. In 2015, Wilton Manors spent $447,000 to buy the empty lot.
The commission purchased the lot to provide more parking to businesses and restaurants on Wilton Drive. Commissioners, except for Scott Newton, who voted against the purchase, acknowledged that the city was spending a lot of money but said parking was badly needed at the north end of Wilton Drive. In 2014, the city spent $788,000 to purchase and build a 42-space parking lot at Northeast 8 Terrace and Northeast 26 Street.
The purchase and development of the small lots has kindled a debate about how the city should solve its parking problem on Wilton Drive. Some favor a garage at Hagen Park while others prefer the small lots located at different points near Wilton Drive.
During the September Candidates Forum, former commission candidate Paul Rolli said that the small lots were disruptive to the neighborhoods.
Mayor Gary Resnick stated he was against building a garage at Hagen Park. In the past, the city has attempted unsuccessfully to partner with a developer to form a public/private partnership. The purpose was to build a commercial/residential development that includes a parking garage. Without a public/private partnership, a garage at that location might not happen. Officials have not expressed interest in paying for the project with city money. Past public/private partnership proposals included letting the developer lease the land in exchange for incurring the costs to build.
At the Candidates Forum, former mayoral candidate Boyd Corbin said he also wants a 300-space garage instead of multiple lots. He estimates that it would cost about $4.5 million. On social media, he said the small lots cost too much money for too few spots.
According to News Channel 3, a recent 300-space garage in Memphis, Tennessee, cost about $5.2 million to build. It includes a hotel, apartments, and a movie theater. The true cost of a garage at Hagen Park would not be known though until a developer submitted a formal proposal.
A pre-bid meeting for the project will be held Dec. 15 at 10 a.m. in the Commission Chambers. The public is allowed to attend.