The public is now learning some of what Fayetteville City Council has been discussing behind closed doors in recent weeks and months. The council talked at length last week about a project related to the construction of a minor league baseball stadium in downtown Fayetteville. Citizens learned for the first time of a significant cost overrun for a planned parking deck on property adjacent to the ballpark. Deputy City Manager Kristoff Bauer disclosed that the projected cost has more than doubled since he first offered what he called a “rough estimate of $7 million.” Council was asked to approve a new cost of $14.8 million.
PCH Holdings of Durham has plans to develop property near the stadium, including a four-story parking garage with a four-story hotel on top of it. They will also build a 7- to 10-story apartment building next to it. Council has apparently been discussing this issue during closed meetings. An attorney for the North Carolina Press Association has questioned whether the proposal was an appropriate closeddoor exception allowed under the state’s Open Meetings law.
The city has agreed to buy the parking garage from the developer once it’s finished. PCH Holdings will sell the building at its cost. PCH project manager Jordan Jones said originally that the garage would be for the exclusive use of its hotel guests. But with the city taking ownership of the facility, it could be used by baseball fans and others. The agreement almost didn’t get off the ground, as council initially shocked the chamber when it voted 5-5 to reject the plan. New members – Tyrone Williams, Tisha Waddell, D.J Haire and Johnny Dawkins – plus veteran councilman Bill Crisp voted against the parking deck because of its high cost.
“We’re missing our numbers in a big, big way,” said Dawkins.
Crisp exercised a personal privilege by immediately calling for reconsideration of the vote without discussion. He and Haire flipped, and the final vote for approval was 7-3. “I ain’t comfortable with it, but we’ve got to go with it,” Crisp said.
Council adjourned soon after the vote, having no idea where the additional $7 million would come from.
Jones said the total cost for its proposed developments would not exceed the planned $65 million. That includes more than $13 million for the renovation of the former Prince Charles Hotel. “The interior has been gutted,” Jones said of the eight-story building. It will be refurbished before the exterior of the facility is done over.