STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
MARBLE FALLS — City leaders have unveiled plans for a proposed parking garage north of a potential hotel/conference center project on Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. property adjacent to Lake Marble Falls.
If approved, the $4.5 million project would involve a four-story structure with 280 parking spaces and frontage on Yett Street between Buena Vista Drive and Main Street, City Manager Mike Hodge said.
City officials have proposed deriving funding from bond debt, possibly paid for with a 10 percent contribution by a developer ($450,000), hotel/motel tax (HOT) funds, and parking garage fees.
“We want to provide more public parking adjacent to the hotel/conference center as opposed to small lots, surface lots, and then on-street parking in and around the blocks down there,” Hodge said. “We anticipate there’s going to be a lot of events and activities in and around the blocks down there.
“We’ve got to get approval from the council, but we’ve talked with them preliminarily, and they seem to be in agreement (about potential funding consideration),” Hodge added.
Staff recently unveiled more details about the city’s potential role in a parking garage development during budget workshop sessions.
To launch the development, city staff recommended a private-public partnership, similar to one undertaken by the Marble Falls EDC for the proposed hotel/conference center.
The EDC sold millions of dollars in bonds to purchase land from private residents adjacent to Lakeside Park as well as provide some funding to the developer, who would potentially construct the proposed 150-room, 16,000-square-foot hotel/conference center with the debt paid through sales tax collections.
“What we’re talking about doing is the city entering into a lease similar to what the EDC has worked out with the hotel and conference center,” Hodge said. “The city would sell the bonds — the C.O.s (certificates of obligation) — for the project, and they would be reimbursed from the fees of people who would utilize it.
“Also, there’s a potential participation from the hotel developer, and we’re also looking at some HOT (funds) that would be available to be placed towards it,” he added. “Then, the city basically would construct and operate the garage.”
The debt could be paid over a 20-year period.
The proposal piqued the interest of nearby resident Maria Valdez, who lives in the 100 block of Buena Vista. However, she expressed concerns about the city’s vision.
“I moved here from Houston myself. This (property) has been in the family for 30 years,” she said. “It’s beautiful, and we’re smack dab in the middle of everything.
“They’re looking at bringing in more people from out of town to enjoy the Hill Country. I’m all for it,” she added. “They’re wonderful to enhance the looks and bring more business, but in whose favor when you can’t afford to live here?”
Valdez said the proposed hotel/conference center just off her block influenced her views of the city’s evolving plans to develop the area.
“Look at the traffic already. It’s all congested right there,” she said. “(City officials) are too far ahead of themselves. Focus more on the locals.”
City leaders view the proposed parking garage as a way to make the area more — not less — accessible to residents as well as visitors.
“We see it as an opportunity to put the garage in and then capitalize on the traffic in that area,” Hodge said.
As a new feature adjacent to the lake, such a structure would complement the proposed hotel/conference center, which is considered a potential tax generator for the city, according to leaders.
“You’re talking about a thirty-plus-million-dollar facility (hotel/conference center) that will add to ad valorem tax,” City Councilman Dave Rhodes said. “This facility will generate a lot of property tax.”
Hodge said despite the proximity to the proposed hotel, the parking garage would serve the public at large.
“It’s not necessarily tied to that (hotel/conference center),” Hodge said. “It’s more tied to the use of the parks, the pavilion.
“It’s looking at the concentration, where it’s located relative to the redevelopment of the downtown area,” he continued, “and also introducing in the hotel and the conference center and also the activities and traffic we think we’re going to be pulling into the area.”