By Jesse Wood
On Tuesday, the Downtown Boone Development Association (DBDA) heard a proposal for a mixed-use development featuring a parking deck at the Market Place shopping center and parking lot, which borders King, Howard and Water streets.
Jason Gaston of Valor Engineering and John Winkler, who owns the property with Kenneth Wilcox, presented the proposal before the DBDA board.
Gaston told High Country Press that the proposal features a 450-space parking deck, 72 one-bedroom units and 10,000 square feet of retail space, including 5,000 square feet of retail space fronting both Howard Street and King Street. The project as conceptualized now features four stories on the King Street side and five stories on the Howard Street side.
Just as the Town of Boone has metered parking or pay stations in downtown Boone, parking in the deck would cost money. Gaston said the parking deck would be open to the public and no spots would be reserved to those renting out the units.
“They would rent space just like any other patron,” Gaston said.
The proposal was presented to downtown business merchants for information and feedback only. No permits have been sought yet as this project is only in the conceptual stage currently.
“Ideally we would start working on permit drawings near the end of the year and maybe have it permitted by spring of 2016 [with construction to start] possibly next summer,” Gason said, adding that this timeline is contingent upon a variety of factors.
Virginia Falck, downtown coordinator with the Town of Boone, said that it seemed that most of the board members and merchants present at Tuesday’s meeting were “amenable” to the proposal.
Falck noted that the design seemed as if it would fit in with downtown Boone. She added, of course, that more retail space and parking in downtown Boone are always welcome.
Last summer, the Market Place lot was home to a “PR nightmare,” as Councilwoman Lynne Mason noted in a meeting in June 2014. Unassuming tourists thought the lot was for parking for the entire downtown area and one lot employed by LMS Parking was charged with assault after a verbal dispute with a tourist over a vehicle booting escalated into physical altercation with a local citizen.