On Time, on Budget?
No Free Parking
Bug in Our Ear
Sandy Loy happens to be the brother of Claudia (Mrs. Mike) Ragsdale. Ragsdale objected to the proposal, saying he did not want the appearance of nepotism by having someone in his family involved in the project. Lambert argued that he had checked around to find an expert on examining construction budgets and the mayor’s brother-in-law came highly recommended.
Lambert said Loy was also recommended by Knoxville City Councilman Steve Hall , who, in addition to being in the construction business, ran against Ragsdale in the recent Republican primary.
City voters passed a referendum that forbids the city spending any money to build or support a new convention center hotel, including funding parking decks. We hear one proposal to avoid the prohibition would be having the parking garage funded by Knox County.
City officials say any such project would require a request for proposals and none are in sight; using city-owned land would most likely violate the referendum provisions; and they also question how taxpayers would feel about taking park property for a hotel.
Studies have also indicated such a hotel needs to be across Henley Street in order to be closer to downtown to maximize its impact and justify public expenditures.
The state of Tennessee has considered building a new state office building across Henley, on the site of the former state Supreme Court building. That would close the present state office building adjacent to the Holiday Inn and the Knoxville Convention Center. That space would then be available for a hotel. We hear the state, once charging forward with the proposal, has backed off of late. (The election, you know.) But even if the site became available for a hotel, the city would still face the referendum prohibitions, unless it was part of a package with the Holiday Inn. The referendum does not preclude the city doing a deal with an existing hotel.
Sapphire will be hosting a benefit party this Thursday, Sept. 28, from open until close. A portion of the proceeds will go toward the accident victims’ hospital bills. We encourage anyone seeking a way to help to attend. From the MP to Gilliand, Wissing and Rock, we wish you a quick and full recovery.
On Time, on Budget?
The on-going dispute has been the subject of meetings between Denark and the PBA since the convention center was completed in 2002. Recently, the city law department filed suit against Denark and the architect over some “warranty issues” having to do with the convention center.
No Free Parking
This has allowed Republic to move into the Knoxville market, taking over city-owned garages and surface lots and many private lots as well. Signs are being changed around downtown reflecting the new management.
On the subject of parking, some Market Square business owners are concerned that charging for parking in the adjacent garage on UT game days is hurting business. The normally free parking on Saturday moves to $10 when UT has a game, with transportation by trolley. This eliminated free parking for Market Square customers on those Saturdays.
The PBA got $2,900 for the California game and has collected about $6,000 for the four home games thus far. (The Marshall game was a washout, so to speak.)
The PBA says any revenue it collects lessens the taxpayer burden for parking decks, and if the garage was free on game day it would be full of football fans anyway—they just wouldn’t be paying for the parking.