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West Chester BID position on proposed divestment of Lot 10

May 20, 2013 | Malcolm Johnstone

The West Chester Business Improvement District Board of Directors, at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 8:00am, voted to take the following position on the divestment of Parking Lot 10 now under consideration by the Council.

Position of the West Chester BID
As a valuable benefit to the downtown providing 72 long-term parking spaces for downtown workers plus short-term parking for downtown customers as well as on-going revenue to the Borough and home to the West Chester Growers market, Parking Lot 10 should be retained by the Borough as a public parking lot.

Reasons for this position
1. Proposed development in the downtown will increase parking demand for Lot 10.  

a) These projects include the theater development at the Armory (212 spaces), the 2nd Kooma Restaurant at 123 N Church St (12 spaces), multi-use development at the Mosteller site (59 spaces), the Swope Building (21 spaces) -- for a total of  304 spaces -- in addition to the reuse of the Historic Courthouse and the possibility of another hotel based on code requirements. Actual demand will be higher.

b) If future demand warrants, structured parking could be provided more easily at this location, rather than the other borough flat lots.

c) While the Chestnut Street Garage provides 689 spaces, the 2008 Parking Demand Study prepared for the garage project recommended the garage provide 844 spaces and identified a potential parking demand for 1,207 spaces, a shortfall of 155 to 518 spaces. This study was limited to the 12-block area bound by Church, Matlack, Washington and Miner Streets.

2. Based on revenue data in the 2011 Parking Services Year End Report, Lot 10 could yield about $190,000 in annual revenues (at $2,600/yr./meter). It currently generates about $142,000 annually. The report also indicates that expenditures are about 12.4% of revenues, which would yield a net return on the operation of Lot 10 from $123,000 to $166,000. At a capitalization rate of 6.5% (which is high in today’s market), this would put the value of Lot 10 at between $1.9M and $2.6M. In other words, Lot 10 is a good investment for the borough. At the current borough tax rate of 6.96 mills, a redeveloped Lot 10 would have to have an assessed value of over $25M (market value about $50M) to yield the same in new tax revenues. Saving this property for a future higher value use may be a good financial strategy for the borough.

3. The award winning West Chester Growers Market feels relocation would be a major challenge. Lot 10 gives them two rows of drive-in stalls. Other locations would likely require off-loading produce. They report that the market attracts over 2,000 people every summer Saturday. This provides a sense of community, where neighbors meet to talk; and draws customers to the downtown businesses.

4. Finally, the ULI report stated that the borough should regard parking as a resource for the downtown, a significant source of revenue for the Borough, and managed accordingly.


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