Feb. 27--The few remaining businesses edging the one-block site for a new downtown parking garage are slated to move out to make way for construction, but a downsized and cheaper garage means they can hang on while new homes are built even as the garage goes up behind them.
Developers had planned an 821-space garage hidden from view by enveloping commercial and residential space, with that shield serving as a major selling point in development plan approval. The garage got cut back to 430 spaces when bonds for the project couldn't be sold. A new financing package still calls for that commercial and residential curtain -- but not anytime soon. For now, only the garage will be built.
David Butler of master developer Alliance Corp. estimates it will take about six months to build the garage, with construction starting within a week. Since the garage itself will only occupy the center of the block, builders can start on the Seventh Avenue side and move toward Eighth Avenue while waiting for remaining businesses to leave, he said. If necessary, they can work around the few whose new offices aren't finished, according to Butler.
That means, however, that the exposed garage will sit exposed for some time. Plans for the commercial and residential space aren't even complete, and actual construction would take about another year, Butler said.
Alliance now owns the former Kirtley Furniture buildings across College Street from the garage site, and should start tearing it down next week, he said. In about four months, that should become the new home for some relocated businesses, Butler said.
"We'll start building back with a new structure for the Country Peddler and Harold's TV," he said.
Plans call for three connected buildings on the Kirtley site, according to Pipes Gaines, owner of the Country Peddler and owner and publisher of the Daily News. The Country Peddler is slated to occupy the bottom floor of the two-story building nearest Eighth Avenue, he said. Apartments are to be built upstairs from the Country Peddler and above the central two-story building, which Gaines believes has no designated tenant.
"I presume they will try to find somebody to sell that to," he said.
As Butler confirmed, Gaines said the Country Peddler's new office should take about four months to complete.
"The Peddler will not move until there is a certificate of occupancy, and then they'll have a certain number of days to move at that point," Gaines said.
Harold Jones of Harold's TV expects to move directly across College Street to a new one-story building in the same set as the Country Peddler office. He's also waiting on construction before moving out of his longtime location.
"They've told us they anticipate us being here four or five months," Jones said.
D.J.'s Auto Upholstery on College Street will be moving to a brand-new building at 2462 Russellville Road -- but not for a few months.
"July or August, we will be moving," said business owner Terry Tarrance.
They'll have 30 days to move once given notice that the new building is ready, but until then Tarrance plans to hang banners on the current location to let customers know they're still around, he said.
Attorney Phillip Grogan, whose office sits on the corner of Eighth Avenue and College Street, said he's talking with developers' attorney Kevin Brooks about a new location now, but was surprised to find that his office had been bought so fast.
"I wasn't aware until Tuesday that it was sold," Grogan said.
He still has a one-year lease, but is willing to move so long as he gets an equivalent location -- thus far, he just doesn't know where or when. Developers have told him, however, that his building won't have to be demolished before the adjacent Country Peddler office is, which may give him a few months, Grogan said.