Tuscaloosa developers plan new hotel and downtown parking

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A local team of investors are planning to redevelop a block in downtown Tuscaloosa with a new hotel, offices and restaurants.

But what could be the most attractive part of the whole proposal is a new multi-storey car park that would be open to anyone wishing to rent space.

And all investors are asking the city for is a few million dollars in tax assistance.

“I come today with an opportunity,” said Tuscaloosa attorney Bryan Winter, who represents the team of hotel developers, engineers and architects behind what is called tentatively “Project Wow”.

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The project, which Winter says will most likely be renamed, will demolish the old Downtown Pub building and renovate the nearby InsureSoft structure that shares the block on University Boulevard between Lurleen Wallace Boulevard North and Greensboro Avenue.

In its place, based on preliminary plans for the project, a $ 56 million development that includes a 109-room Hyatt House hotel – the first hotel under the Hyatt Hotels brand in Tuscaloosa – as well as three restaurants and an auction room at distinct detail.

“It’s centrally located,” Winter said, “and it’s going to get rid of a run down, downtrodden, run down area of ​​the city.”

A 410-space car park is part of a proposed project for downtown Tuscaloosa.

It will also feature 410-space parking, and the proposed office space on the roof of the bridge – which is now designed at 30,000 square feet – could be replaced with additional parking to push the bridge to 600 or more spaces.

“If the city wants more parking, we don’t support the idea of ​​an office,” Winter said.

Winter estimated that the redevelopment of this site will bring, over the next 20 years, a total of $ 55.5 million in sales, accommodation, rental and property tax revenues, among others, to the hotel. town hall and schools in the town of Tuscaloosa.

To facilitate its completion, the development team requested $ 6.3 million in economic incentives, mainly in the form of property and accommodation tax reductions and construction fee exemptions.

That request also includes $ 2 million in cash, and Winter said the entire incentive package is under discussion.

But he also made it clear that the development team is asking for financial help in some ways.

“We would love to be encouraged to do this project,” said Winter.

Beyond the incentives, parking can also depend on the city’s willingness to take it back.

The development team’s proposal is to build the parking lot which, with its current design of 410 spaces, could cost more than a third of the entire project.

In turn, the developers ask the city to buy it back from them.

“We’re ready to build it and return it to you,” said Winter.

To recoup the cost, Winter said the developers reached out to a technology-based parking company to rent spaces by the hour, day, week or month – there are several options – with fluctuating fees. depending on demand, weekend activity and other factors. .

Customers could pay via their smartphones, or companies could rent blocks of space for their employees.

Based on an average of $ 7 per space for each day of the year, a fully rented patio of 410 spaces would generate about $ 1.05 million per year, Winter said.

“There’s a deal to be made here,” said Winter. “We don’t want to miss this opportunity.

And neither, it seemed, the rulers of the city.

“The team and I would love to have the opportunity to engage in a meaningful discussion if council is serious about pursuing this,” said Mayor Walt Maddox. “I think it’s an opportunity, (but) at the end of the day it has to be a good deal for the taxpayer.”

The council’s finance committee, at its November 2 meeting, agreed and gave Maddox and city staff the green light to begin negotiations with Winter and the developers in earnest. The matter is expected to be revisited at the November 9 meeting, but no resolution is expected.

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District 3 City Councilor Norman Crow has said more than once that he would like to explore the idea of ​​building the over 410-space bridge, especially if the scale-up wouldn’t cost much more than the estimated $ 19.8 million.

“It won’t be cheaper if we try to do it,” Crow said.

His fellow municipal councilor Cassius Lanier agreed.

“I don’t see how this could hurt the city,” said Lanier, who represents District 7. “We definitely need more parking.”

And City Councilor Matthew Wilson, who is also in his first term as District 1 representative, appeared to be on board.

“I think we have to keep seizing the opportunity,” Wilson said.

Contact Jason Morton at [email protected].


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