'It's going to negatively impact us': City OKs sale of Gaines Street parking lot for housing – Tallahassee Democrat

The city of Tallahassee agreed to sell a one-acre parcel of prime real estate on Gaines Street for $4 million Wednesday, clearing the way for more student housing in the area — and less parking. 
City commissioners voted 3-1 to approve the sale to 908 Group Holdings LLC, which has bought land and built housing throughout the CollegeTown area, including The Nine, State House Varsity and State House Area.
The group approached the city earlier this year and made an unsolicited offer for what is now a vacant gravel lot near the corner of Gaines and Macomb streets — the same lot that’s provided parking for the Garages on Gaines businesses and a hotel on the corner. 
For Apalachicola-based Oyster City Brewing Company, which opened a Tallahassee branch in August, the sale of the lot opens up the question for parking for customers. 
“It’s going to negatively impact us for sure,” general manager Carrie Poole said.   
Poole said she emailed city commissioners Wednesday to ask them to consider directing the buyer to incorporate a public parking aspect to the development. Other student apartment condos on Gaines Street are have parking garages only open to residents. 
Poole said she hasn’t yet heard back.
“We rely almost solely on that parking so without it I’m not really sure where people are supposed to park to come here,” she said. “I felt like the decision was already made but, at the very least, I hoped they would explore a solution to the parking issue.”
City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow, a critic of recent city land deals, recused himself from Wednesday’s vote because he is part owner of Gaines Street Pies across the street and looked to avoid any appearance of a conflict. He said the sale had no direct financial benefit to him.
Back story:In 3-2 vote, Tallahassee Commission gives OK to sale of downtown properties for luxury hotels
Commissioner Jack Porter voted against the measure, saying that though she supports the vision for the Gaines Street corridor, she would have liked to see something with more of a public value. 
“Publicly owned land is such a scarce commodity,” Porter said. “There’s a lot we could do with that lot. It hurts me to see the lack of character, the lack of creativity, the lack of imagination in how we approach planning and the kind of scale and vision I think is appropriate and benefits all of the public.”
The money for the sale will be deposited into the city’s stormwater and deficiencies funds. (The deficiencies fund consists of two months’ worth of operating expenses kept in reserve.)
Ed Murray, whose real estate company NAI TALCOR will receive a 4.5% brokerage fee,urged commissioners to sell it because at $88 a square foot, “the price is incredible when you look at it.” 
Murray said he was speaking as the past Gaines Street Revitalization Committee chairman: “This is exactly in line with the vision of that. It’s to provide housing, to provide scale, and it’s everything we wanted when we were on that committee.” 
The construction set to go there will generate an extra $375,000 in tax revenues. The city first considered the sale in September but put out a solicitation for bids then; no other bids were received.
Contact Karl Etters at [email protected] or @KarlEtters on Twitter.
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