By Bethany Bray
---- — Salem councilors voted last night to declare a city-owned lot of 38 parking spaces along Washington Street “surplus.”
The move is a first step toward possibly selling the parcel. The 20,291-square-foot lot of metered, off-street parking is being eyed by a developer who owns the adjacent land and is planning a mixed-use development for the site.
Last night’s vote does not tie the city to any particular project or developer. The property would first be put out to bid, and the City Council would have to approve a sale of the property to one of the respondents.
“This is only the first step in the process,” Councilor Josh Turiel said last night. “This does not commit us to selling.”
Somerville-based developer RCG has proposed a five-to-six-story building for land the company owns on the block bordered by Washington Street, Dodge Street and Dodge Street Court. The $45 million complex would have a mix of retail, commercial and residential units; possibilities include shops, offices or even a hotel.
RCG has pledged to make at least 38 of the project’s 275 parking spaces permanently available to the city, if the adjacent city-owned lot were sold to RCG and included in the development.
A public hearing would be held on the issue before the City Council would vote to sell the parcel of 38 parking spaces. If the council chose not to sell the parcel, the lot would remain as is, under city control.
Turiel said the proposed development could be “a real asset to downtown.” Councilor Thomas Furey echoed the sentiment, saying it would be part of an “economic renaissance.”
Councilor Michael Sosnowski said last night that he is “cautiously supportive” but has questions that will be addressed as the project is vetted further.
RCG’s designs would also have to go before the Salem Redevelopment Authority, Design Review Board and Planning Board.
The council’s Subcommittee on Community and Economic Development voted to support declaring the 38 parking spaces as surplus last week and sent the issue forward to the full City Council.
Last night’s vote was 9-0, with Councilors Arthur Sargent and Paul Prevey absent.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.