After the City Commission indicated its willingness to consider offers for redeveloping the Fillmore Drive parking lot on St. Armands Circle, four developers have made offers to purchase the property.
The offers the city received for the 1.98-acre site range in price from $5 million to $11.8 million. Three of the proposals include a hotel and grocery store, two feature a residential component and one offer includes no plans for the future of the property.
The private interest in the Fillmore Drive lot dates to May, when representatives for JWM Management presented conceptual plans for the city-owned site to the commission. JWM outlined its desire to construct a hotel, Morton’s grocery store and residences on the site. A majority of the commission expressed interest in the concept, voting 4-1 to direct staff to work with the developer on how to advance consideration of the proposal.
Rather than going through a formal process to solicit proposals from other developers interested in the site, in August, the commission said it was open to receive any offers for the Fillmore Drive site from prospective purchasers.
In September and October, City Attorney Robert Fournier informed officials that the city’s paid parking program on the Circle could affect any plans to sell the Fillmore property. The city agreed to use paid parking revenue to fund the construction of the Adams Drive parking garage on St. Armands. Under the terms of a bond agreement, the city is not allowed to take any action that would negatively affect paid parking revenue — which means any development plans that reduce the number of public parking spaces could be a no-go.
Of the development offers the city received, only the JWM Management proposal maintains the 268 existing spaces in and around the Fillmore Drive lot. The proposal from Gregory Thomas Leonard suggests an alternate solution for lost revenue from any eliminated spaces: Leonard offers to match the revenue the parking lot currently generates, paying into the city’s parking fund until the bond is paid.
Martin Hyde, a critic of the city’s consideration of the JWM Management proposal, made the only offer to purchase the lot that includes no development plans. In August, Hyde said his $5 million offer for the property should force officials to go through a formal solicitation process for bids to purchase the land.
The JWM Management proposal is the only offer the city received without a specific purchase price. The proposal calls for a third-party appraiser to determine the value of the land, with some consideration given to JWM Management’s plans to build a garage with up to 268 public parking spaces. In September, Fournier informed the commission that a credit for the construction of a parking garage could substantially reduce the purchase price of the land, but commissioners said they were still willing to hear offers.