WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The President of Residents of Old Wilmington, Paul Lawler, said he is concerned with the proposals moving forward regarding the Water Street Parking Deck.
"We have a good news/bad news story here," said Lawler. "Good news is the City has decided they want to get rid of this eyesore. The bad news is the proposals that came in are going to cost a lot of taxpayer money and we think we can do better than that."
The proposals moving forward call for apartments, some retail space and parking. Lawler says each proposal calls for the City of Wilmington to spend around $20 million on the parking lot itself, including everything from the demolition to building a new lot.
The spaces would be used for the public, with a certain number being sold to be used for private residential use.
Lawler said he believes the money should be spent on something other than parking.
"If we are going to spend $20 million I think there are a lot of better ways to do that," Lawler said. "We could do something much more interesting or we could just be fair to other developers in town who had to pay for their own parking and have the developers for this building pay for their own parking."
He said he believes with a view of the water, something should go in the space that "celebrates" the Riverfront.
"The City has been moving to get downtown more pedestrian friendly, the new parking decks are all on Second Street and not down here," Lawler explained. "Keeping them on Second makes this area down here more pedestrian friendly and it is much more friendly to the river to have people doing things as opposed to a parking lot on the river."
Council member Kevin O'Grady said part of the funds in the proposals call for demolishing the deck, something he said needs to happen regardless. He also said about 250 cars park in the deck everyday and they need to build a new one. Furthermore, he pointed out with new residents moving in, the city would make a lot of money from property taxes. He believes over time, the parking lot would help pay for itself.
O'Grady said that these are just proposals and no decisions have been made, nor have any negotiations started.