Nearly two years ago, San Luis Obispo reviewed a proposal for a unique development that aimed to turn an old downtown car lot into an outdoor food court built primarily from repurposed shipping containers.
The proposal, which was considered by the Architectural Review Commission in February 2022, was heralded as a way to help new businesses flourish and offer a family- and pet-friendly spot for outdoor dining.
Now, however, the plan is all but dead, developer Nick Tompkins of NKT Commercial told to The Tribune, and the city is instead in talks to buy the 1166 Higuera St. lot and convert it into a parking lot.
On Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo City Council will consider purchasing the property at the corner of Higuera and Toro streets from NKT Commercial for $4.7 million.
The City Council will also consider allocating approximately $125,000 to pay for the needed improvements to transform it into paid public parking.
According to a city staff report, the 21,607-square-foot lot would add 44 new paid parking spaces downtown, as well as additional ADA spaces. It would also require the city to demolish an existing structure on the property that has been deemed uninhabitable.
What is that in SLO County?
Ever wonder what that construction is in your town? Or what happened to that cool project that was proposed? We’re finding out the answers as part of a new series. Send us your questions and tips by emailing reporter Kaytlyn Leslie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• • •
• What’s happening at the old Fosters Freeze in SLO? Work is underway on major project
“Purchase and use of this property for public parking would facilitate greater access and economic development in the upper Monterey Street area, as contemplated in the Downtown Concept Plan and other City General Plan policies,” according to the staff report.
“The lack of public parking has been a hurdle to realizing this long-term vision, which includes more residential and commercial development,” the report continued. “The strategic purchase of 1166 Higuera will support this vision by creating better access and parking to the upper Monterey Street area.”
New plan comes as SLO grapples with parking issues
Parking has been a hot-button issue for the city in recent months, after it nearly doubled its downtown parking rates and made a slew of changes to street-side and structure parking as it prepares to make way for the new Cultural Arts District Structure.
Just last week, the City Council voted to bring back some free parking at its structures after a heated meeting filled with comment from local business owners saying the city’s recent changes were harming the downtown core.
During that meeting, some speakers did comment at the loss of the city’s old downtown paid parking lots, which have largely been demolished to make way for new development.
The report for the City Council’s upcoming meeting added that the purchase of the Higuera Street property would provide more parking capacity in the downtown area and would “otherwise partially relieve any real or perceived challenges to both distribution and availability of parking spaces.”
The purchase would be paid for via a loan from the city’s Infrastructure Investment Fund to its Parking Enterprise Fund.
If approved, the purchase is expected to close by the end of December.