Easton's Redevelopment Authority is asking the city for a $65,000 loan to purchase a parking lot at 129 Northampton St. in the city's Downtown district.
Director of the authority, Gretchen Longenbach, said the agency plans to combine the parcel with 118 and 120 Northampton St., to be acquired with other outside funding later as part of a redevelopment project aimed at attracting a developer for the long-disused building. She added the parcels combined could provide 14 apartments with off-street parking when revitalized.
The authority has secured an agreement to purchase the lot for $62,000, with $3,000 going to closing costs.
After the sale, five parking spots would be leased to the Grand Eastonian for employee parking, Longenbach said, noting the hotel initially tried to purchase the lot, but was willing to drop the idea in exchange for the parking spaces.
The rest of the parking would be leased back to the city for $1 per spot for public use until the site is developed, Longenbach said, estimating the city could make as much as $9,000 per year in revenue at the current rate of 50 cents an hour for metered parking. She added that is much more than the city would make with the loan money sitting in the bank.
“We think there is a benefit to the city acquiring the property,” Longenbach said.
While it will probably take a few years for the project to move forward to the point it is ready to be handed off to a developer, the property at 120 Northampton St. was officially certified as blighted a few months ago, she said.
“This means the city could move forward to purchase it when funding becomes available,” she said.
Sources other than city funds will be used to purchase the other two properties, Longenbach added, and the city will be paid back when the authority divests itself of the three parcels when the project is complete, which she estimated to be about four or five years.
The money would come from the city's capital reserve fund, not the general budget, said city finance administrator Chris Hegele, in answer to Vice Mayor El Warner's query.
No other comment was made by council members, who will vote on the matter at the next city council meeting, to be held on Tuesday, Sept. 27 due to Rosh Hashannah. It should also be noted the meeting will be held at 6 p.m. St. Paul's Lutheran Church, at 610 West Berwick St. in the Southside district of the city, as part of the city council's effort to hold meetings in the neighborhoods around the city from time to time.