The Owensboro City Commission voted in approval of authorizing Mayor Tom Watson to negotiate and execute a real estate purchase and sale agreement for the acquisition of Roberts Brothers Auto Mart property. Located at 603 W. Fourth St. the lot will be purchased for $575,000 and will allow for 76 additional parking spaces to be included in the downtown area.
“Parking is the key right now, for them to get people down there,” said Mayor Tom Watson. “We’ve have to try and cobble together different lots to make it relevant.”
Watson said securing a ground-level area for downtown parking is cheaper than building another parking garage for residents and the City of Owensboro alike.
“To put a parking spot in a parking garage costs $16,500 a spot,” Watson said. “So, when you’re looking at surface parking, that’s something that’s pretty good to utilize. On the other hand, if you can get parking, you don’t have to pay land price for it. So, we’ve been working and working, trying to figure out what’s available.”
Because the price of downtown property has increased so much in recent years, Watson said there are landowners still holding onto their property. City officials have been trying to negotiate with these property owners so that Owensboro can secure enough parking to keep up with downtown growth.
“We’re trying to do the best we can with the limited amount of funding we have and maximize every dollar,” Watson said.
As for the space at Roberts Brothers Auto Mart, Watson said City Manager Nate Pagan brought the idea up to the city commission as soon as he saw the space was available.
“When we saw that it became available, Nate jumped on it and said, this is a possibility because there’s a lot of land behind it,” Watson said. “You could probably fit 40 more spots in it at some point in time. So there’d be 110 spots for surface parking.”
Watson said the City of Owensboro still needs to secure hundreds of parking spots for the downtown area.
“We need about 320 for all this stuff we’re trying to do downtown,” Watson said.
City Commissioner Larry Conder believes real estate agent Steve Castlen, who is facilitating the sale of the Roberts Brothers property, should consider donating a substantial portion of his commission toward maintaining the Castlen Dog Park, which is named after Castlen.
“It’s taxpayer money going to him from the sale in the form of a 6 percent commission,” Conder said.