‘It’s about a partner, not a project’

Town seeks master developer to unify downtown development

Posted 4/5/17

In an effort to promote a cooperative and comprehensive development plan for the downtown area, Parker’s community development department has begun a process to select a master developer — and it wants the public to weigh in.

“It’s about …

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‘It’s about a partner, not a project’

Town seeks master developer to unify downtown development

Posted

In an effort to promote a cooperative and comprehensive development plan for the downtown area, Parker’s community development department has begun a process to select a master developer — and it wants the public to weigh in.

“It’s about a partner, not a project,” said Deputy Community Development Director Jason Rogers.

The town’s urban renewal authority, the Parker Authority for Reinvestment, initiated the process with a request for qualifications from developers across the country on March 1.

Parker’s Business Retention and Marketing Manager, Weldy Feazell, said town staff are looking for a company with a plan for creating a successful public-private partnership, as well as the financial capacity to undertake big projects and prioritize the town’s needs.

Feazell said she’s seen more civic engagement in planning decisions recently, including opposition to a proposal for retail development at the Pine Curve property on the intersection of East Mainstreet and Pine Drive and the plan for the Parker Place Hotel at east Victorian Drive and Mainstreet. As a result of public pushback, both plans were scrapped.

“I think it was a lesson learned,” Feazell said.

Giving citizens a way to participate in choosing the developer, she said, was a central idea in devising the selection process.

Feazell and Rogers said the goal is to select a developer that will come up with a comprehensive plan for four parcels of land around downtown: Pine Curve, the vacant plot of land between the north side of the PACE Center parking lot and Mainstreet, the economic development department annex property (where the hotel was planned), and the 4-acre parcel adjacent to Discovery Park on the north side of East Mainstreet.

Previous plans for each of the plots were handled piecemeal, Rogers said. Adding a master developer and looking at the four areas as an integrated project, he said, would be more beneficial for residents and visitors to downtown.

Master developer candidates will make public presentations at the PACE center on May 9 at 6 p.m., and Feazell said town staff is working on a method to analyze input from citizens who attend as well as those who watch on Facebook live. Ultimately, the PAR board, composed of the six members of town council and Mayor Mike Waid, will decide which developer is selected.

The first public open house to introduce the process was held in February, attended by an estimated 40 residents. Rogers said the comments he heard were encouraging.

People “want to understand the process, understand the goals, the objectives,” he said, adding that many asked what plans are in the works for the properties under the master developer’s purview. He said there are none yet, but his hope is for a “unified vision” that will allow a mixture of residential and commercial uses.

“There is no project on the table,” Rogers said. “Each one of those sites is a blank canvass.”

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