There have been a lot of misconceptions about our project, and we would like to clarify some of them in this section:
• The Project is too big
The project fits within the zoning envelope (height, setback, number of floors) set by the parcels it sits on. It is very similar in size to a concept endorsed three years ago.
• The Developer is making too much money
The developer will make enough money to provide the facilities to the town at no cost, service the debt on any loans, and provide a return to investors typical of real estate development. The town will see how much revenue generating space we are building and know how much revenue that space is likely to generate. The town will have ample opportunity to decide if the partnership is inequitable.
• There are hidden expenses to the town
The partnership between the town and developer is very simple and transparent. The town gets the facilities described for free. It will own the buildings. The developer will get its return from the revenue produced by the office and retail. There are no hidden fees or costs.
• A P3 is the wrong deal for the town to make
A Public Private Partnership (P3) is a format whereby the town and a developer can build a project that mutually benefits each party. In this case the developer’s revenue funds the improvements for the town. The alternative is for the town to deplete its reserves or take on debt.
• The Town Hall does not need to be replaced
The town manager has frequently spoken to the deficiencies of the current building. It is undersized, certain systems are deteriorating, and it does not meet the current hurricane codes.
• The Police Station does not need to be replaced
Likewise, the police station does not have the facilities that are required of a modern police department. Taken together the facilities will have the capability to continue operation as a command center during the strongest hurricanes.
• Additional Community Center Facilities are not necessary
Many residents miss some of the facilities lost to the demolition of the old center or planned for earlier versions of the current one. The list is not fixed, but we would like to include a fitness center, multi-purpose room, library or other facilities the community would like.
• The Community Center can be expanded
The community center can be expanded only with great difficulty. Structurally there are limitations to what a second floor can carry. Also, the center will be out of commission for the duration of construction.
• The Parking is unnecessary
Parking has been an issue for the town for many years now. Exact quantities, populations served, and best location in town can all be discussed, but some parking is necessary. Three years ago the town hall site was preferred by the town manager, commissioners and residents as a location that addressed the parking issue better than other sites.
• The garage is too big
Agreed. The parking quantity shown (431) addresses an aggregate of parking shortfalls expressed by the town. The project’s designers did their best to meet this target and show that it was possible. It is not the developers’ intention to build any more parking than necessary. A more likely number would be around 300.
• The Parking is in the wrong location
The town hall parcel offers the best balance of proximity to likely users and efficient garage layout.
• The Parking will attract unwanted visitors
Visitors that are likely to add a burden to the town and its beach will typically do so on weekend days from late Spring to early Fall. Parking rates during this time can be elevated to discourage this. Of course, for those who have passes and permits no such rates would apply. The garage is not a revenue source for the project as a whole. Enough revenue to cover the cost of operation is important, but the revenue lost by discouraging parking at certain times and days is not.
• The Retail will hurt the existing retail
We propose retail that will complement the current mix and hopefully bolster it. Many retailers on Harding welcome the addition of the project.
• The office space is unnecessary
There is a clear shortage of office space in town. Many of our residents with thriving businesses have complained about no office space options close to home. Part of the office space would be dedicated to the kind of multi-faceted co-working space becoming popular in so many areas. The office space will also add to the daytime population and customer base for the retail district.