The public disclosure last week that the Argyle retail/apartment project was put on hold because the developer apparently wants to tweak the plans was late in coming. But it makes sense.
Acknowledgment of the slowdown of a once fast-tracked project was only revealed after a public records request of emails was made by The Courier. The silence from administrators and City Council the past month led to unnecessary speculation and rumors. In reality, a second look at the plan appears warranted if only to make sure the interests of all stakeholders are served.
The Argyle lot, which is just across Main Street from the Marathon Petroleum Corp. headquarters, is prime property and ripe for development. But a city-owned parking lot is needed if the project is to proceed as introduced.
The Blanchard Valley Port Authority has offered $150,000 to buy the lot from the city and then sell it to Tim Youngpeter, the developer. But the City of Findlay (aka taxpayers) still has a seat at the table, at least until the parking lot issue is resolved. The public deserves to be kept in the loop of those discussions.
Some concerns that the development would reduce available public parking downtown may have contributed to Youngpeter’s request for a pause. Money may have played a role as well. A recent appraisal put the market value of the lot at $180,000, but the $30,000 difference should not be a deal-breaker considering the total project cost is $31 million.
Whatever the reason for council tabling the parking lot sale, we’re glad developers are returning to the drawing board. Eliminating the need to acquire the parking lot altogether may mean scaling back the number of apartments, but it would likely end much of the controversy over the loss of public parking.
While the Argyle lot may be the best location for such a project, there are other well-situated downtown sites that have potential for an apartment/retail center. One, the southeast corner of Main and Center streets, is virtually wide open. Whenever that location is developed, it will become the north end’s gateway to downtown.
We hope city officials, council, planners and the developers all keep the public’s best interests in mind as Plan A is reworked. The project, while privately funded, is one of great public interest.
Good for whoever or whatever slowed the train to make sure the Argyle project is right for the space and right for the place. No harm is done by making sure the shoe fits.