With the Portsmouth City Council voting tonight on a $23.2 million dollar bond issue to build a second parking garage, critics of the process are asking: “Is this being rushed through? If so, why the rush?”
“The proposal is to spend $23.2 million dollars to build 600 parking spaces in a massive six-story building over 60 feet tall. Do the math—that’s more than $38,000 per space!,” a critic says. “Further, as part of the $23.2 million in total costs, the city plans to pay $5.1 million dollars to buy the land. Is the land really worth $5.1 million of Portsmouth taxpayers’ money? Has an independent real estate appraisal been done of this land? If not, why not? Only two years ago, the same garage proponents claimed that a 300 space garage on the Worth lot would solve all of our traffic and parking problems forever. So why today is 600 the new magic?”
IS THIS TAXPAYER-FUNDED WELFARE FOR DEVELOPERS?
To even the most casual observer, it looks like a driving force behind this parking garage is that the city did not require Portwalk to provide as much parking as some would say zoning back then required. Now Harborcorp is offering to provide only 523 on-site spaces for their massive 60 foot tall, curb-to-curb development. “Are we to believe that this is adequate for conferences of 1,300 people, a 98-room hotel, more luxury condos, and a 40,000-square-foot supermarket? Does this meet the zoning code? Why are our city leaders not requiring private developers – like Harborcorp and Portwalk — to provide or pay for more parking? Why are we asking taxpayers to pay for the parking for private developers? And please stop lying to us by claiming it’s not going to cost city taxpayers anything! Parking revenues are just like property taxes – they are just one more source of general fund revenue to pay for the city’s budget. Parking revenues are the TAXPAYERS’ money that can be used for any purpose.
Also how come the proposed new garage and the Harborcorp proposal (the largest and most massive in the city’s history) are not in the city’s new 3D modeling software so citizens can see how massive they really are? What more is being hidden from us? As the City Council votes tonight, how big will this garage be—60 feet tall? What about the 45-foot height limit? Why is this proposed parking garage not posted on the city website? Who is this parking garage really being built for? Is this property tax welfare for private real estate developers?