BROOKINGS – The Brookings City Council on Tuesday accepted a proposal by Linchpin Corporation to turn the Old Armory, at 221 Main Ave., into a restaurant and lounge and meeting space and build a boutique hotel with a two-level parking garage on its west side.
Now the city will move forward with creating a development agreement with Linchpin for the project.
Jacob Meshke, assistant to the city manager, gave a presentation on the background of the Old Armory and history of the council’s struggle to find a solution as the 1937 building deteriorates. The building has mold, asbestos and lead from being an old shooting range. The roof leaks every time it rains.
The facility was closed in September 2018 due to safety concerns, and the council requested city staff research three different options: cost for demolition; cost for public rehabilitation; and to explore private sector options, Meshke said.
Banner Associates finalized a study in November 2018. The 119-page Banner Building Evaluation Report is included as an attachment to the agenda available on the city’s website. It has a multitude of pictures, both inside and outside of the Old Armory, as well as existing floor designs.
The cost for demolition was estimated at $333,933. The cost for rehabilitation was estimated at $3,140,122, Meshke said.
City staff requested proposals to repurpose the building. CD Properties and Linchpin Corporation submitted proposals.
CD Properties offered a proposal to restore the Old Armory back to its original condition. The current glass entryway would be removed, and in its place would be a raised terrace on the front that wraps around to the south. The inside would have retail and office space and 31 loft-style apartments. The parking lot on the west side would remain as is. It would be 1 1/2-year project.
“One note on their proposal: it does not meet the 51% commercial requirement that was included in the RFP (request for proposal),” Meshke said.
Linchpin’s more than $15 million proposal included building a 63-room hotel where parking lots are now, with a two-level parking garage with 100 to 135 spaces underneath it. A glass vestibule would be added to the front of the Old Armory. The Old Armory itself would be 100% commercial and retail space, with a restaurant, lounge and bar; as well as the lobby and office for the hotel. Linchpin also requested a liquor license and a TIF (Tax Increment Financing). It would be a two-year project.
Linchpin did meet the 51% commercial requirement, Meshke noted.
Angela Boersma, president of Linchpin, and Clint Powell, vice president of Linchpin, answered questions during the study session.
Councilor Leah Brink asked why there was such a difference in the number of parking spaces, and what would be valeted and non-valeted parking.
Boersma explained the difference between grade and below-grade parking, both of which are included in the proposal.
They have talked to an automated parking structure company. Boersma said density can be added and more vehicles can be parked in the same area “because we can stack them three high, instead of two.”
Valets can park the vehicles in a special configuration in the main floor of the parking structure, Powell added.
“In the world of valet parking, you can actually double-stack vehicles, because you can eliminate the aisle,” Boersma said.
Would the public who parks in the lot now still be able to use it, maybe for a fee, Brink asked.
Yes, there would probably be an hourly rate and a daily maximum, depending on the person’s needs, Boersma said.
Councilor Ope Niemeyer asked if there would be a size limit on vehicles because some pickup trucks are rather large.
“I’m not sure on the automated structure,” Boersma said, but added the building’s footprint is wide enough for a wide drive aisle. “The potential to park an extended cab, long-box kind of vehicle does exist if we’re doing self-park.”
Long vehicles could work in certain locations, just as there are areas designated for mopeds, she said.
Niemeyer also questioned how much utility work needed to be done.
Boersma’s hoping the parking structure will stop short of a new utility easement, but she knows there would have to be some relocation. For instance, the large transformer is where the large canopy and entrance is planned to be, she added.
Brink asked how many jobs will be generated by the project.
There’s a fairly substantial total economic impact, not only from jobs onsite, but also related jobs, Powell said. He estimated 20-30 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs could be generated.
Brink asked where those employees would park.
On days without a major event, the employees could park within the facility and not impact parking in the area, Powell said. With careful configuration, they could still accommodate employees onsite, even during an event, he figured.
And not all of those employees would be working at the same time, Boersma said.
She explained the drop-off loop for the hotel is off the street, so Lyft and Uber drivers would not be obstructing traffic.
Councilor Patty Bacon thanked Linchpin for taking on the project.
“We’ve obviously been dealing with this for several years now, and the idea that we can make it into an exciting addition to our community is wonderful,” she said.
Mayor Keith Corbett said the council has heard from people that they want a hotel in downtown Brookings.
Bacon said that’s what she heard when she helped out with the Festival of Books: people didn’t like that all the hotels were on the edge of town.
“They would like to be downtown and explore our downtown,” she said.
City Manager Paul Briseno explained they were working on a development agreement with Linchpin, which would be presented to the council in the future.
Bacon noted that Ashley Biggar of Downtown Brookings was in attendance and asked her what she thought a hotel would do for the downtown area.
“I think it would be phenomenal,” Biggar said, adding a hotel is something that Brookings is lacking that other successful downtowns have.
During the regular council session, Bacon asked if Linchpin’s proposal preserved the historical pieces on the front of the Old Armory.
Boersma explained the current glass structure on the front is not a historical part of the building, so they would be replacing it, “but everything else about the façade is maintained.”
Brink asked if Boersma has considered having signage for the historical property.
“The whole hotel property, as well as much of the interior, is focused on historic photos and artistic representations of kind of the history of the neighborhood and Brookings … so it will be reflected throughout almost all of the spaces,” Boersma said.
The vote was unanimous to accept Linchpin’s proposal and to move forward with creating a development agreement. Councilor Nick Wendell was absent.
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]