MANCHESTER, NH – Imagine the return of a movie theater to the city’s downtown. But first, you have to imagine more parking. That is the lesson learned by developer Arthur Sullivan, who has been known to tell the story of how he lost out on a viable movie theater proposal because there wasn’t enough parking to support it.
During Tuesday night’s Lands and Buildings Committee meeting, Sullivan came before the board to continue the conversation started months ago over his quest to purchase a city-owned street that exists between two of his parcels. Sullivan is proposing to purchase Plaza Drive from the city. It’s a short cut-through street that connects Mechanic and Spring streets. Sullivan owns both the plaza and parking garage on either side of the street. His attorney, Marc Pinard, last night said the proposal is meant to “put the parcel back together.”
Part of the proposal includes adding 40 parking spaces, with the option to close access to the street should Sullivan bring a business opportunity – like a movie theater – back to the bargaining table.
Parking would sweeten the pot.
Pinard maintained that Sullivan’s intention is to benefit the downtown in the short- and long-term.
“We have current needs, from our tenants and businesses, and interest in the form of private companies in that area of Plaza Drive,” Pinard said.
“We’re out of parking,” Sullivan added.
Alderman Joe Levasseur wondered why the city shouldn’t just put in its own parking spots and make money from that, and had some open-ended questions about public access and emergency vehicle access.
Sullivan’s proposal included a traffic count, by request of the city, to provide more data on how much public use the street gets [it’s included in the document uploaded below along with a summary of the project by city planner Jeffrey Belanger.]
A letter of support for the proposal was submitted by John Harris, President and CEO of the YMCA, who said the Y has a lease agreement with Brady Sullivan for parking spaces for gym customers.
The proposal was tabled to allow for discussion with other city departments before deciding whether to sell a city street.