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Council approves parking lot plan

A compromise has been reached for rebuilding Alexandria's biggest parking lot - the Fillmore lot between 5th and 6th Avenue.

At a special meeting last Thursday, 15 out of the 19 business owners supported an option that's $7,000 less than the city's original proposed assessment of $234,000.

The Alexandria City Council approved the compromise at its meeting Monday night.

The approved design doesn't contain as much green space as the first proposal, which drew a thumbs down from many business owners when the council presented the plans last month.

The compromise also omits the "center plaza" or concrete area that the city proposed to build between the parking lot and businesses' rear entrances.

It does, however, retain a sidewalk that customers could use to walk from business to business without having to step out into traffic in the alley.

The compromise, referred to as "Option C," calls for a total of 135 parking spaces - eight more than the original "Option A" plan.

There are currently 154 spaces in the Fillmore lot. Some spaces will be lost in order to bring the lot up to code for handicap accessible spaces. The other spaces will be taken up by trees or landscaping that are also required under city code.

Downtown business owners also considered but rejected an even more scaled-back plan, "Option B." At an estimated cost of $214,000, it was the cheapest route. It would have provided the barest amount of green space and four more parking stalls than Option C.

The total cost of the project is estimated at more than $412,000. The city and its utility, Alexandria Light and Power, would cover about 40 percent of it.

Property owners in the central business district would pay the rest through assessments, based on how close the business is to the lot, how big their building is, and whether the business is providing its own parking.

According to preliminary estimates, the assessments on the 11 businesses with rear entrances to the Fillmore lot would range from $1,020 to $9,690. Combined, those businesses would cover about 22 percent of the total assessment; other downtown property owners, around 90 of them, would share in the rest of the cost.

City leaders emphasized that the figures are still rough and will change depending on how the bids come in. A public hearing about the assessment amounts will take place July 28 at City Hall at 7:15 p.m.

A similar assessment approach is expected to be used when the city improves the two other city lots sometime in the future.

The Fillmore lot will be completely removed and resurfaced. Overhead electric and cable lines would be buried underground and a new watermain would be installed so businesses would have their own independent lines and sprinkler system capability.

The alley would remain a one-way but vehicles would be able to enter or exit every parking row from the alley or from Fillmore Street.

The city hopes to start the project after Labor Day and complete it this construction season.