Mebane’s city council has authorized the purchase of property at the corner of Ruffin and North Fourth Streets.
The quarter-acre lot is across North Fourth Street from the only other city-owned lot in the downtown area.
[Story continues below photos of existing and proposed parking lots.]
The city’s staff recommended the purchase because “there is a need for additional parking in the central business district which will only accelerate in the future,” according to background materials prepared for the city council’s consideration.
What about closing the 200 block of North Fourth Street for more parking?
While the topic was pending, councilman Tim Bradley raised the idea of potentially closing that (200) block of North Fourth Street to make a sort of mall area, combining what would now be two city parking lots.
“There’s a definite uptick in the need for parking downtown,” Bradley noted, based on the possibility of more restaurants opening in the downtown area.
“There are no stores that feed Fourth Street [in the second block],” he pointed out. Bradley also noted that the first block of Fourth Street is one way, so not a lot of loss
Bradley estimated the city could gain another 25 to 30 parking spaces by closing the street, increasing the number of parking spaces, and perhaps establishing a pedestrian mall or walkway between Ruffin and Clay Streets.
Council member Katie Burkholder responded that Bradley’s suggestion was a “cool idea.”
The council took no action on Bradley’s idea, but did unanimously authorize the purchase of the lot.
The corner lot is behind four store fronts that face the 100 block of West Clay Street. The owner is Marissa LLC a business entity associated with the Martinho family, who owns the restaurant of the same name at 106 West Clay Street. Luis Martinho had already signed the contract that was being considered by the city council.
It was noted that the Martinho family is selling the restaurant. In the meantime, they approached the city about possibly buying the lot behind the restaurant, which is now used for parking for several businesses, including their restaurant.
The city’s purchase price is $220,000, plus $7,500 for due diligence to check title, environmental issues, etc., as described by city attorney Lawson Brown.
The initial parking surface would be gravel, but city manager Chris Rollins suggested that about $130,000 could be included in the city’s next budget to pave the lot.
The council’s decision to move forward with the purchase was unanimous, 5-0.
A budget amendment to transfer money in order to close on the property by the end of the year may be forthcoming at the council’s December meeting, Rollins added.
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