By Andrew Wroblewski
The Town of Huntington put out a call to developers today for proposals to build at least one multi-level parking structure in downtown Huntington to add hundreds of spaces to the parking-challenged village.
Under the guidelines laid out for potential developers, the town would retain ownership of the land and the developer would pay to build and maintain a structure or structures at either the Elm or New street municipal lots, or both. The developer would own any buildings and pay taxes on them.
“In order for the developer to get their investment back, they could propose some retail space, office space, even apartments,” said Robert Scheiner, chairman of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and a member of a parking consortium formed in 2012 by Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone to address village parking concerns. Developers could also propose parking fees.
The proposals must double the number of spaces displaced, plus add any additional spaces required for new mixed use development. Elm Street currently has 318 spaces and New Street has 252.
For Jack Palladino, president of the Huntington village Business Improvement District and owner of Christopher's bar and restaurant, a parking structure is “long overdue.” “Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, people drive around 20 minutes for a parking spot and when they start doing that once or twice, they start looking for other places to go and shop,” he said.
Palladino added that he’d prefer to see the structure erected over the New Street lot due to its distance from residences and because it is bounded by one-way streets. “I think that’s the best place for it.”
Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone, in a statement, called the RFP “the next logical step in what has been a long, collaborative process of identifying the factors surrounding the need for additional parking in Huntington Village and considering possible solutions.”
The RFP states that the structure or structures should be “aesthetically pleasing” and “compatible” with the surrounding village.
The recommendation that the town pursue a public-private partnership and mixed-use development was made by Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates, an engineering firm contracted by the consortium to study the issue.
Among recommendations made in its August 2013 report to the consortium, installation of muni-meters and increased meter fees for prime parking areas have already been implemented.
Proposals must be submitted to Huntington Town Hall by noon on Feb. 5, 2016.
“I think the best thing that come from this is some very, very creative ideas that the town can then choose form and then go from there,” Scheiner said.