EDMOND — The design of a proposed multimillion dollar retail and office building in downtown Edmond drew compliments from city council members, right before they voted 4-0 to deny its construction.
The issue this week also sparked a renewed debate on parking availability in downtown Edmond.
Council members said they liked the architectural look of the proposed two-story, 15,584-square-foot building at Campbell and Broadway. But the lack of parking for the project, called Plaza USA, is what ultimately doomed it.
Plaza USA was estimated to cost between $2 million and $2.5 million.
Representing the developer, Saeed Zahrai, was attorney Randel Shadid. Shadid did not mask his displeasure with the council’s decision. He said he wasn't sure if or when the project would ever come back for review.
“If I were him (Zahrai) I’d say to hell with it and let weeds grow all over the lot,” Shadid said.
The proposed site is a parking lot just south of the Edmond Post Office on Broadway and to the west of Keller Williams Realty on Campbell.
Plaza USA received approval earlier in the month from the Central Edmond Urban Development Board in a 5-1 vote. The chair of the urban board, David Forrest, spoke in favor of Plaza USA and conceded the lack of parking might have been a problem. He said the board overall thought the project was a positive development for northern downtown.
Shadid, who owns an office across the street, said Plaza USA would be a great destination point for shoppers and also a link to the nearby University of Central Oklahoma to the east.
But council members, as well as the only dissenter on the urban board, Gary Moore, said the project needed to abide by the rule of one parking space per 400 feet of development.
“Under the best of conditions, we’re still about 21 or 22 parking spaces short,” Councilman Nick Massey said. Council members Victoria Caldwell and Darrell Davis also expressed their concerns. Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner was absent.
During his presentation, Shadid called the parking situation a “nonissue.” On a screen in council chambers, he pointed to an aerial view of the area and noted many empty parking spaces. He also used his nearby building as an example.
“Sometimes I’ll park right in front of my office,” he said. There is plenty of parking on the side and behind, but I'll park in front just to show there is activity there.”
Council members, including Mayor Charles Lamb, were not convinced and said more study on parking was needed.
“There is a perception that downtown just doesn’t have the parking,” said Walter Jenny of the Edmond Neighborhood Alliance. “People will go to Quail Springs Mall because they know there is parking.”
Shadid said there is plenty of parking in the area and asked Lamb during the meeting if the public safety center, currently under construction, met the one space per 400 feet of development requirement. Lamb admitted it did not. Later the mayor said the center is a public structure with its own parking and not subject to retail requirements.
Shadid, irate after the vote, commented on that.
“Yeah, they get to make the rules, and they get to break the rules,” he said.
Shadid didn't completely rule out going back to the council after a parking study is done.
“I can tell you what will happen,” he said. “They’ll be studying this long after you and I are in the grave.”