March 13, 2016 – Downtown Apex Parking

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When I ask people “What’s so great about Apex?”,”The Downtown” is given more than any other answer. Indeed, the rejuvenation of our central business district over the last 15 years has been a wonderful thing to witness, and has become the envy of many other North Carolina towns. The tenant occupancy rate stays above 95% and people from miles around make specific trips just to experience the home town feel.

But when I ask, “What’s wrong with our downtown?”, I hear “Not enough parking.” Indeed, employees alone account for an estimated 75 vehicles, while customers added another 50 to 200, depending on the time of day and day of the week. Every time the town figures out how to add a few parking spaces, they are filled immediately.

The most obvious solution is a parking garage. But those are hideous to look at.

Do parking decks have to be ugly?

My suggestion, which I put before the council at our March 4 retreat, is to plan and fund a Stealth Parking Deck on the site of the Saunders Street parking lot. I define this as a structure, perhaps 3 levels, that functions like a parking garage on the inside, but looks like a renovated warehouse, row of shops or even apartments on the perimeter.

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Town of Apex Public Parking Lot on Saunders Street

And if the fa├žade is constructed using reclaimed brick and a “sloppy mortar” technique, the building can instantly look like a restored 100-year-old building that visually fits in perfectly with our existing downtown.

 

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Imagine this look on the outside of a working parking deck

On March 4, during the priorities exercise at the retreat, the council expressed strong support of an idea such as this, where it received a vote from 5 of the 6 elected officials, and was the favorite idea for 2 (strong support considering there were 50 ideas competing for only 15 votes and 1 gold star per council member).

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A fake “row of shops” could be constructed on the front of a parking garage

Our population grows by 150 people every month. The citizen demand to be downtown will only grow. What better way to support our downtown businesses and provide for our citizens than to put a downtown parking solution on our 3-year plan, fund and build it? Do you like the idea of a Stealth Parking Deck?

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March 1, 2016

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Welcome to March! Can’t believe it? Me neither! I’ve been in office for only 3 months, but it feels closer to a year. We have gotten so much done since I’ve been mayor! It’s time once again to review the past week…

On Monday, I met several walkers to raise money for MS. They stopped for lunch at the Anna’s Pizzeria, and what a great bunch. Later that day we had a 2-hour economic planning session where we helped prepare the economic study for South Salem Street, between Friendship and New Hill. The biggest take away was that we all want to make sure the important intersections are able to be developed for commercial use in order to serve the future residential population there.

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On Tuesday, the development community provided similar feedback to the economic study professionals. Then I went to the Apex Area Teacher of the Year awards, sponsored by the Apex Chamber of Commerce. It was great to meet several principals, whom I did not yet know. Then we had a Planning Committee meeting where we discussed possible proposals to move the Veridea project forward and then possibilities for off-site non-residential in mixed use zonings. Lastly, we had the town council meeting at 7pm to finish up the agenda from Feb 16.

On Wednesday, I met with the chair of the Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources Advisory Commission. We discussed some minor tweaks to the concept plan for Pleasant Park and had a nice coffee.

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On Thursday, I went for Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Training to get a handle on how we ask for, and sometimes receive, state funding for sidewalk, street and other transportation projects. I then met a land buyer for lunch, my treat.

On Friday, I met with a council member and a business owner to discuss how we can continue finding ways to make Apex a great place to work, as well as to live. And on the weekend, a young lady from Skip-Its interviewed me on leadership and humility.

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In the coming week, we have our first regular meeting of the town council for March tonight, where we will have mostly presentations and a few new business items on the agenda. Looking forward to a breather soon. It’s busy, but I love it.

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