Do You Want to Buy An $18 Million Parking Garage Available On The Rocky Mount Monopoly Board?

For the fun of it, let’s play Monopoly!  On the Board, one of the things we can buy is a parking deck. A deck we are told that will be great for Edgecombe County. Consider a few of the following things before plunking your Monopoly money down.

  1. This parking deck has 700 spaces.
  2. You currently have 328 spaces being used for the Event Center.
  3. The hotel wants 140 spaces.
  4. Building the parking deck On Top of our existing  328 spaces
  5. Net gain 232 spaces.
  6. Parking deck total cost (including the acquisition of land, but not including consultants) $18,350.000
  7. Cost per new space, $79.095

I highly recommend that instead, you consider building surface parking across the street from the Event Center. I don’t see how, but let’s say that costs $1 million. This hotel, parking, mixed-use project is being touted as great for Edgecombe County. Makes you wonder how many times residents of Wards 1,2,3, 4 will stay in this proposed hotel? If they park in the parking deck, they will have to pay to do so.

It is a false premise to say that building the hotel is an economic driver. A hotel does not bring restaurants and shops and living above the store apartments. It is having these things in place that result in needing a place to stay. If this project is really good for Wards 1-4,  spend the $1 million on surface parking and invest the rest of that $18,350.000 in these Wards that have the most distressed housing, missing sidewalks, potholes in the streets, unkempt parks, crime, and slum landlords.

The party line is that Nash County is responsible for these poor conditions, and the plight of these Wards. This is an unexamined idea! You have to ask why Wards 1-4 look the way they do if the majority vote on the council holds the power?  This majority, had they wanted to, could have directed city resources into these Wards, having the best sidewalks, tree-lined streets, liveable and safe housing, the best parks in the city rather than the worst. This is within the purview of the City of Rocky Mount. Wards 1-4 are the Gateway of Rocky Mount and should be seeing growth. Will the October 8, 2019 election finally be the end date when the citizens of Rocky Mount are no longer willing to be disrespected by the leaders who say they want to help them?

September 19 -6:30, at a Meet The Candidate Event held at ECC, the contested Council Seat in Ward 1, held by Councilman Knight since 2003,  spent his time defending himself and the current Council for all the great strides they have made. There is little correlation, however, between those words and tangible results in Ward 1. The winner for the evening was Tarrick Pittman, who is running for Mr. Knight’s seat. A retiring, quiet, gentle young man, he stood head and shoulders taller than all the rest with his articulate, well planned, plans for Ward 1 and his work for the entire city. An impressive resume, his technological expertise informs his approach. He is a bright, new hope, and Monopoly player for Rocky Mount. Next time we’ll talk about buying a Monopoly Utility Company with the money we saved by providing surface parking. A parking deck might be nice to have, but repair and replacing infrastructure is a must-have. 

Things to Consider Before The Atlantic Avenue Corridor Public Meeting – Mixed-Use Development – “Gaming the System”

Stepheny & Rodd
Touring mixed-use development in FL.

Introducing Guest Blogger, Rodd Myers. Rodd holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Language and Literature. He has a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning with a focus on business and public administration from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). We became friends while Rodd was still living in Rocky Mount where he and his partner, John Manns, restored the Henry and Estelle Tharrington house on West Haven Blvd. He brings his considerable experience to the understanding of urban planning. I’m sure you will find this post helpful when thinking about the Atlantic Avenue corridor. Welcome, Rodd!

PLEASE NOTE:                                                  September 17- 6:00 – Atlantic Avenue Corridor Land Study Public Meeting – Booker T.Theater on Church Street.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

All parties must believe that “BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME” is a myth not reality. “Mixed-use development is a useful concept, but it is vague, littered with exceptions and special cases and consequently difficult to formalize with rules. City Hall has a long history of misusing this concept. Sometimes through analysis that is so shallow and problematic that regular residents quickly spot the faults. Other times it is to help developers [game the system].” Douglas Moran

Successful Mixed Usage in downtown Mount Dora, FL. A great example of how it should be done.

After carefully reading the information I found in the Rocky Mount Telegram, gleaned from a reporter attending city council meetings, public remarks made by city officials/the developer during presentations and documents filed with the city concerning the project, it is clear that the project should be considered as problematical. It was initially presented as a Tier 1 hotel with numerous amenities, parking options and housing/retail solutions. Now it appears to have been reduced to a far lesser hotel brand, vastly different parking options and the housing/retail options are vaguely discussed. No surprise here. This is the Modus operandi of those who misuse mixed-use development for personal gain at the expense of the neighborhood. There is a term “Gaming the System” that articulates exactly how misguided the process can become.

Gaming the system can be defined as using the rules and procedures meant to protect a system to, instead, manipulate the system for the desired outcome. Mixed-use development has a certain flair and politicians and city administrators adore its sound. Why not? For decades the term mixed-use has been used by people to obfuscate their true intentions, make their plans sound beneficial to the community and to qualify for parking exceptions, community reinvestment dollars, and tax credits. At its roots, mixed-use is not a bad idea when carefully studied for financial and social impact. The two may not go hand in hand; too often the financial impact is far less than anticipated and the social impact more damaging than initially revealed. Moreover, even if the project is guided by accurate financial projections, community input from the surrounding area and responsible and objective views it still faces survival contingent on peripheral factors. Several important factors aside from the desire to build it come in to play:

  1. Social buy-in must be strong from the beginning—nurtured by input from the community, input from the surrounding area where the impact will be the greatest and input from the existing businesses.

2.   Return on investment (ROI) frequently falls short requiring additional tax dollars to prop up the faltering project. Therefore, the ROI MUST be accurate and there must be an alternative financial model which anticipates problems early to allow for corrections. If not, the developer will bail and as a result, the incubating businesses and the surrounding neighborhood will experience what is known as a slow death.

Mixed-Use Development Mount Dora Fl
Nice Example

The ever-changing information that the taxpayers are being given, and the unexplained line items alone have all the marking of a project that is ripe for  ‘gaming the system.’ Four votes on the City Council have declared that this mixed-use development plan should be implemented. I hope this post helps your readers understand more about what can be happening with this latest project.