Ok tons of information to go through here so let's get started. This is from the May 1st Advisory Board Meeting.
1. King's Inn - I had previously reported that the Kings Inn may become apartments, which was mentioned in the February Ward 1 Neighborhood Advisory Board. Well today Mark Lewis informed the Board that the King's Inn is now in forclosure (I guess it was disclosed today in the paper) If the owner can't get it out of foreclosure by May 9 or 10 (didn't catch exact date), then it will be foreclosed. Forgive me but i don't know the exact steps of what happens when something is foreclosed upon. In other Kings Inn News, code enforcement has visited the property twice in the last week or two, and the owners have been cited for various violations, and they have until May 20th to correct those violations, at which time a report will go to the City Council to consider what actions to take. Of course, if it goes into forclosure that may change enforcement plans. I really really hope this project can pull itself out of the water here. I am still routing for something...apartments would be great. Retail would be great. Anything.
2. 10 North Virginia St. Retail - Good news here! People are still interested in making this a great space. The Redevelopment Agency opened up bids for the retail aspect of this project, and within a short period of time received 5 legitimate inquiries, I think mostly from local developers. So the Redevelopment Agency expects to begin interviews tomorrow (May 2) and the last interview will be conducted Monday. They then expect to narrow it down to three top bids, and then everything wrapped up and presented to the council by May 23rd. I am stoked this is being fast-tracked fairly aggressively, and Mark Lewis pointed out he wanted to avoid the mistakes that botched the project the first time around.
3. Update on downtown parking garage - The Redevelopment Agency has entered into a 'memorandum of understanding' with a private casino owner downtown for a possible parking garage. The cost is favorable at $18,000 per space (excluding land costs). The location is not being disclosed at this time (darn!).
4. Retail Core - This is interesting. Apparently either the retail core concept has moved, or there are TWO retail core concepts. I was told previously by city officials that the planned area for a retail district was over by Lake and Evans; however, in this meeting, the site of the retail district was mentioned as the current RTC City Center site. The center is moving over to 4th street to a much larger location, and the Redevelopment Agency wants the land for a retail district. Mark Lewis anticipated a few bumps in negotiating the property with RTC but expressed enthusiasm.
5. Post Office Project - The Redevelopment Agency is enthusiastically working with and fast-tracking negotiations with the Post Office to both acuire the current building, and find a new home for the Post Office, who is actually eager to move to a better location that serves its routes more efficiently. So its a win-win situation for both.
6. 10 North Virginia Canopy - Funding has been set aside for the canopy, and the Subcommittee has pretty much chosen a design. I will scan the design in as soon as I get a chance, but its way more artsy than the previous one people referred to as bubblewrap, but not as artsy as the first concepts that rolled in. But at this point I am glad it will be built soon. Construction can begin as soon as Council approves the design.
7. Mark Lewis' Administrator Update: Ok Myrna Minx listen up, this could be VERY cool for the residents of Riverwalk Towers. The Redevelopment Agency is in negotiations with a major farmer's market type vendor/venue, to launch an indoor, year-round 'Urban City farmer's market' as described, which combines local art vendors and dealers with traditional grocery and produce oriented farmer's market items. So you'll be able to stroll through and shop for art and fruit at the same time. Nice! Mark Lewis said 'Think Pike's Place in Seattle.' Two locations are being considered for this concept, one is the Freight House District, the other is the bottom floor of Riverwalk Towers. Personally I think the location would be far more successful in the bottom floor of Riverwalk Towers. More traffic in that part of town. Freight House District indoor farmer's market would be cool, but there isnt much supporting retail or really anything but empty lots around it.
8. Facade Improvement Program - All of this information is officially unofficial, if that makes sense, because only half the Citizens Advisory Committee showed up for the meeting. But here is the gist of it. The Facade Improvement Program is a priority program for the Council to implement. They started with three ideal candidates for the Pilot program. The first candidate was Second Street from Arlington to West. The second candidate was Second Street from Virginia to Sierra, the third candidate was Virginia Street from Second Street to Commercial Row. I am happy to report this was the winner, and probably the most complained about block from commenters on this site. In this pilot block, there are 8 active businesses, 3 closed businesses, and 1 vacant business, and 3 casinos. They did a survey of the businesses and they showed a willingness to participate provided the City fully finance it. The concept is to have the City help the 8 smaller businesses, and work with the 3 casinos for a cooperative effort to improve their facades. The next step is to do an RFP for an architect who will basically redesign the entire frontage of the street, and then present that design to the businesses, review historical photos, etc.