Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Romano: My kingdom — or my tax dollars — for a parking space!

In downtown St. Pete, you are entitled to certain unalienable rights.

Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of a parking space.

They are disappearing, you know. Day by day, and lot by lot. It seems every gravel surface is targeted for some type of development, and that means every driver is destined to circle the block at least twice.

Which brings us to the story of the $26,500 parking spaces.

The St. Petersburg City Council gave the preliminary go-ahead last week to fund construction of a parking garage in the Edge District off Central Avenue and 13th Street.

For folks who live, work, shop or eat around there, this is undoubtedly good news. As traffic in the area has increased, the number of parking spaces has decreased due to all the new construction.

So the need for a parking garage seems pretty well-established.

The outrageous cost of parking garages is also grudgingly accepted. In this case, to build a structure that is reinforced enough to, perhaps one day, have condos built on top of it, the cost will be roughly $6 million. Or, if you prefer, about $26,500 for every space in the multilevel garage.

The city has tax revenues sitting in an account specifically for this type of investment in neighborhood infrastructure, so the plan seems reasonable. At least up to this point.

Where it gets a little wobbly is in the ownership.

St. Pete doesnít want it.

The city will pay to build the garage, and then turn over the running of the structure to a development group that is planning to build at least 64 apartments, along with 10,000 square feet of retail in the area.

In return, St. Pete will get a tiny cut of revenue generated from the garage.

Give away a garage? Does that make sense?

City staff seems to think so. The council does, too. Unanimously, I might add.

"I suppose you could argue either side of it,íí said City Council member Karl Nurse, whose district the garage would be built in. "Candidly, itís the end result that Iím most interested in. We have the use of the garage for 50 years with very little downside to the city. We didnít have to buy the land, and the property will remain on the tax roll. Thatís the trade-off.íí

The argument goes like this:

The neighborhood is desperate for parking, and the city didnít have any land immediately available. By building on a parcel controlled by the developer, the city saved money it would have spent to purchase land. And by allowing the developer to take control of the garage, the city avoids the long-term costs of maintaining and repairing the property as well as the immediate expenses for security, insurance, sanitation, etc.

The city estimates the cost savings to be $1.3 million over the course of a 50-year deal, which is roughly $26,000 a year. In other words, fairly negligible. And council members said they would rather eliminate the potential risk of revenues being too low, as opposed to the potential reward of the garage becoming a cash cow.

"The idea is to build a garage for the publicís benefit,íí said City Council Chair Darden Rice.

Iíll buy that.

Even at $26,500 a space.

Comments
Fatherís Day on the water

Fatherís Day on the water

Luis Santana | TimesBoaters take advantage of the calm seas and warm weather to enjoy the waters near the Dunedin Causeway on Fatherís Day. Dozens of boats were beached along the shores of Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island State Park.
Updated: 7 hours ago
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administrationís move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.Itís also...
Published: 06/17/18
Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A motorcyclist and pedestrian both died in a crash Saturday night near Palmetto Road and U.S. 19, police reported.About 10:30 p.m., a St. Petersburg man, 41, was riding a 2012 Honda motorcycle north on the highway, according to the ...
Published: 06/17/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

UPDATE, 11:37: Interesting decision by the Rays to move Adames to 2B today and reinstall Hechavarria at SS as he came off DL following Arroyo injury.Here is the Rays lineup:Duffy 3bBauers 1bRamos cCron dhAdames 2bHechavarria ssGomez rfRefsnyder lfFie...
Published: 06/17/18
Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

CHICAGO — Not long after her father went missing during the Korean War, Carol Elkin spotted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in downtown Chicago and did what any kid might do when coming face to face with the nation’s most famous soldier: She ...
Published: 06/17/18
1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

TRENTON, N.J ó Shooting broke out at an all-night art festival in Trenton, New Jersey, early Sunday, sending people stampeding from the scene and leaving one suspect dead and 20 people injured, a local prosecutor said. Many of the 20 injured were tre...
Published: 06/17/18

spain600 migrants allowed off ships after rescueAbout 600 migrants disembarked from three ships Sunday in the port of Valencia, more than a week after they had been rescued at sea only to be turned away by Italy and Malta. Arriving separately, the Aq...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., June 17, midday:87 662 6806e_SRit48442Sun., June 17, evening:66 701 0866e_SRit27697Fantasy 5Sunday...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Gunfire erupts at festival; 22 hurt

Gunfire erupts at festival; 22 hurt

TRENTON, N.J. ó Gunmen opened fire at an all-night arts and music festival early Sunday morning, sending people running over each other in the scramble to safety, authorities said. One suspect was killed and 22 people, including two suspects, were in...
Updated: 7 hours ago