MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Development Co. offered 404 S. Gay St. to the city in support of the city's downtown economic development and revitalization efforts. On Monday, city council members formally accepted the gift as a way to connect the downtown to Ariel-Foundation Park and the bike trail system.
The lot, formerly the site of a car wash, is being developed into a 25-space parking lot. It also includes a gazebo donated by Mount Vernon Nazarene University, an asphalt path from Howard Street to the pedestrian bridge, and concrete steps to a viewing platform overlooking the Kokosing River. It also has a park-like space that incorporates Rotary Heritage Park.
“It would literally become the entrance to Ariel-Foundation Park,” said Attorney Kim Rose of the Foundation Park Conservancy.
The city will maintain the parking lot through a lease with the conservancy. The conservancy is responsible for obtaining funding to maintain the property. The city cannot sell the property for 25 years. After 25 years, if it decides it needs to sell the lot to “address critically desired community development,” proceeds from the sale must be used to further downtown economic development.
The lot, which Rose said will be completed by the end of the year, will be public parking with a three-hour limit from 6 a.m. to to 11 p.m. Overnight parking is not allowed.
“What we want are the people coming into the city who will use the bike path … as well as events at the gazebo,” said Rose. “It's been a number of years effort, and we are really thrilled with it.”
The lot is one of five parking lots being developed in the overall project. The Knox County Foundation will own two lots and will use some of the spaces for tenants of 16 loft-style apartments being developed for Knox Community Hospital, Kenyon College, and Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
MVNU and Central Ohio Technical College will each own one lot. Parking at the MVNU lot is reserved for MVNU faculty during the day; after 5 p.m. it opens for public parking. The COTC lot will also be available for public parking in the evening.
Each lot will have a specific address so that visitors can plug the address into their GPS devices and easily find public parking when they visit.