The Sedona City Council gave its blessing for the Sedona Chamber of Commerce to proceed with the purchase of a vacant building on 401 Jordan Road.
Even though a formal vote was not taken on March 15, council was clear that the purchase of the building is a smart move with a wide array of possible uses in the future. But in the meantime, it can be used for additional free parking in the Uptown area.
The plans calls for the chamber to use product development funds — via bed tax revenue — and pay it off in the next three years. It would then be turned over to the city at that point or further down the road when it’s deemed appropriate.
According to a chamber report, the initial project goal is to “provide free parking spaces for visitors, relieving demand on 89A in the Uptown region. The property is located one block from the city’s current municipal parking area and the soon-to-be installed elevator to SR 89A, next to Wayside Chapel.
“This solution provides additional free parking spaces, with good ADA accessibility in Uptown, and responds to concerns regarding transition to 101 paid parking spaces along SR 89A. Minimal initial improvements would be made to the property in order to evaluate the usage of the spots once available for free parking.”
Chamber President and CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff said the cost of the 5,200-square-foot building [which includes a $50,000 upgrade to parking] is $1,015,000. A down payment of $390,000 would be made with the remaining amount to be paid off by 2020. The property is in escrow and the chamber must move forward on the purchase by the end of May.
Following the meeting, Wesselhoff said she was pleased with the council’s decision and looks forward to working with residents and stakeholders in the area to explore the best use of the property.
“There has been a need for additional parking in Uptown for many years and we are excited to be able to play a leadership role in achieving more free parking capacity for our stakeholders in Uptown,” she said. “We believe that this property is strategically located for multiple uses and there are tremendous opportunities that will revitalize the Jordan Road area and increase pedestrian walkability.”
Wesselhoff and City Manager Justin Clifton said the building could be used in a variety of ways. However, the city may wait until the Uptown Community Focus Area is completed in the next two years in order to determine its best use. In the meantime, the chamber has offered some suggested uses including:
- Transit hub and staging area: As a transit hub, this site could deflect a portion of visitor traffic off of the main SR 89A corridor. The hub could serve as the central location for the trailhead transit service and a site for potential future public transit services. This new staging facility could provide a central location for a pickup and dropoff station for local tour operators. This location allows for a central access point off of the main street, but nearby enough for convenience and accessibility. This location could offer public restrooms and picnic areas for visitors waiting for transit/tour pickup and will serve as a tactic to revitalize the Jordan Road business district.
- Employee parking and/or bus parking: With a maximum of up to 93 spaces available, the property could provide parking for Uptown employees. As a potential revenue generator, the private sector could rent spaces for their employees. The site could also be used as additional parking for motorcoach tours.
- Geotourism center: As both a parking and staging location, the center has the opportunity to reach and educate visitors on how they can be responsible Sedona adventurers. The center could offer informative exhibits, sustainability stories and ideas that could be applied to visitors’ time in the area, as well as back home.
- Business incubator: The building could include spaces for small, new businesses to rent as start-up office space. Another concept would be to have a co-op working space for area start-ups and entrepreneurs.
- Demolition of the building: The building could be demolished in order to accommodate additional parking and/or parking structure.
- City land trade for another property: The property could be traded for another property of equal or greater value to the city at a later date.
As for the need for additional parking, Clifton said data collected in 2016 showed that out of 49 Saturdays, the municipal lot exceeded 90 percent capacity on 30 of those days or about 60 percent of the time. During busy times of the year, use was often at or near 100 percent throughout much of the day.
“It seems like there are a lot of things that we could potentially do that would be other types of services,” Clifton said. “That’s why we think this is a good project. Property is limited and they’re not making any more. The bottom line is, there doesn’t appear to be a better opportunity in the foreseeable future.”