Parking Garage and the Shared Parking Program – The Main Article
January 31, 2013 § 2 Comments
 The program had been initiated after it was recognized that many properties had little or no land for on-site parking and could not accommodate higher densities permitted under the relatively new PD-MU zoning. Properties with the then prevalent CCD zoning were expected to convert to PD-MU zoning overtime. However, the CCD properties were prevalent over the entire downtown. Many of them were owned by established businesses that were not ready to convert to the PD-MU zoning. By the time the program was finalized in 1996, the program was changed to allow participation by the CCD zoned properties without converting to PD-MU zoning. In other words they could provide some on-site parking and meet the remaining parking needs by participating in the program.
 It should also be noted that the Town staff and some members of the community have asserted that the 1994 estimate is based on the cost of surface parking. However, this assertion does not have merit. By the 2012, approximately $1.3 had been collected from the participants. In comparison, the 2012 assessed value of the land and improvements (used in creating the parking spaces) was $2.66 million. The participants, therefore, have paid about 50% of the cost of creating the surface parking.
 This policy of benefiting only a few also calls into question its stated objective of revitalizing the downtown. There was no discussion of the shared-parking program or of the two-tier system of parking when the council was considering the approval of the Downtown Master Plan in 2010. It appears that no councilmember was even aware that only a small portion of the parking will be subsidized and the vast majority will not.
 The Herndon Commerce Center building (The TPI Center) was not so lucky. In 2006, TPI Group, Inc. purchased 3 condos totaling 17,268 sq. ft for $4.5 million or for about $261/sq. ft. In 2012, Elden Street LLC (whose major owner is Mr. Steve Mitchell) purchased the condos for $1.825 million/sq. ft., or, for about $106/sq. ft in bankruptcy proceedings. The purchase, of course, included the right to the 88 parking spaces purchased by the TPI Group Inc. under the shared-parking program. The value of this right, assuming a cost of $14,700/space, is about $1.3 million. This implies that the Elden Street LLC purchased the 3 condos for a net cost of approximately $500,000 – a very good bargain for the space. The low price should help it to be profitable for a long time.
 The issue of convenience is an important one. No councilmember has ever enquired whether shared parking spaces have been or would be located areas convenient for the employees and guests of other downtown businesses. In contrast, as the DMP shows, the future parking garage would be located magically right next to the proposed location of the Art Center – for the convenience of its patrons.
 It also depends on the ability to learn while on the council, if council work sessions and interactions are conducive to learning. The topic “ learning while on the job” is complex and requires considerable discussion. For the purpose of this article, it is sufficient to say that Herndon Town Council proceedings are not conducive to learning the technical, economic, administrative and political details of most problems.
 In 2002, when the staff wanted to increase the developers’ share from $3267/space (=0.6*$5,445) to at least $8,820/space (=0.6*$14,700), he openly opposed the change. Once he had received a low price, he could not possibly ask others to pay more. This is a different form of conflict of interest.