The city-owned High Rock Avenue parking lot would be worth $2.9 million on the open market, a real estate appraisal firm has told the city.
The value of the downtown lot was determined by GAR Associates of Clifton Park, which the City Council hired in November to come up with an approximate value, as the city considers possible development deals for the site.
The 2.6-acre surface parking lot next to City Hall and the Saratoga Springs City Center has been at the center of a three-year controversy over its best future use, though whatever happens there is expected to include a multi-level parking garage to increase the available downtown parking.
At their meeting Tuesday, council members briefly discussed the appraisal. Members said it appeared accurate, based on the comparisons GAR used. GAR was paid $2,500 for the appraisal.
“Obtaining this appraisal is a key part of our efforts to move forward with considering any project that is being proposed for the this land behind City Hall,” said Mayor Joanne Yepsen.
City officials sought the appraisal as they prepare to negotiate with two private developers who have submitted proposals for mixed-use projects, with a parking garage included.
In September, the city received proposals from Paramount Realty Group of Syracuse and Hyman Hemispheric of Voorheesville to build mixed-use developments on the site. Both proposals would include at least 600 new parking spaces, and also residential or commercial uses. The property would be either sold or leased by the city to the developer.
The proposals were sought after a Saratoga Springs City Center plan to build a single-use parking garage on the site proved controversial. Some neighbors and other city residents think a traditional parking garage would be ugly and detract from downtown, and they have encouraged the city to consider mixed-use development.
The City Center, meanwhile, has continued to move forward with its plan, which are currently under architectural review by the city’s Design Review Commission. In November, the city Planning Board approved its site plan.
One adjacent neighbor, the Mouzon House restaurant, has filed a lawsuit to reverse the city Planning Board approval and other favorable actions the city has taken on the City Center’s proposal. The case remains pending in state Supreme Court in Ballston Spa.
City Center officials contend the convention venue needs more parking to remain competitive, and critics agree there’s a need for more downtown parking.
None of the three proposals for the land can move forward without the City Council approving either a sale or lease of the land.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, firstname.lastname@example.org or @gazettesteve on Twitter.