Lewes is continuing to pursue public use of M&T Bank’s parking lot at the corner of Third and Market streets in the downtown business district.
City officials have been eyeing the lot for quite some time as a way to add to the limited parking inventory that exists. Mayor Ted Becker has discussed the issue several times with representatives at the bank’s headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y.
The latest plan created by city engineer Charlie O’Donnell would result in 16 new full-time spaces for public parking. The bank’s 17 dedicated parking spaces would also be available for public use when the bank is closed for business. All spaces could be metered.
The plan also calls for four dedicated spaces for Hotel Rodney and two ADA handicap spaces.
One concern raised by O’Donnell at the Oct. 2 meeting of the city’s downtown parking committee was the cost. He said it’s affordable for both the city and the bank, but likely too expensive for Hotel Rodney’s portion.
Based on estimates received prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hotel Rodney would have to pay more than $40,000, or 66 percent of the cost, due to the reconfiguration of the hotel’s dumpsters in the parking lot. The bank would pay roughly $10,000 for seal coating of the pavement, while the city would pay about $13,000 for landscaping, bollards and curbs. The city would also need to purchase a new paystation for the parking lot at about $8,000.
Becker said more discussion with Hotel Rodney must occur before plans move ahead.
Another issue Becker raised at the Oct. 2 meeting is M&T Bank’s unwillingness to move forward with a lease longer than two years. He said the bank has been very cooperative to work with, but would not budge when it came to a long-term lease agreement.
Becker said he believes parking revenue from the metered spaces in the lot will cover the cost of construction in those two years. If the bank agrees to continue the lease beyond the two years, he said, it would likely include a revenue-sharing clause.
The city will continue discussions with M&T Bank, Hotel Rodney and other stakeholders in the coming weeks.