Planning Board to recommend uses of former Evans Seafood property

Published 6:17 am Saturday, February 3, 2007

By Staff
Council wants public, groups to help identify appropriate options
By MIKE VOSS, Contributing Editor
Washington’s Planning Board will determine appropriate uses of the former Evans Seafood property and make recommendations to the City Council on how that land should be developed.
That’s the decision the Washington City Council made Friday during the final day of its annual planning session. The council would have final say on what to do with the property.
The former Evans Seafood property, about a half an acre, is part of the approximately 4.5 acres of land between the N.C. Estuarium and the former Maola facility on Water Street. The city owns the former Evans Seafood property and the other piece of the 4.5-acre area.
As the planning board determines the best use of the former Evans Seafood property, it should seek input from the public, Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, Washington Tourism Development Authority and the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association on the best use of that property, council members said.
Mayor Judy Meier Jennette told the council that developers want to make a presentation to the council about their proposal to develop the land. The mayor also said that adjacent and nearby property owners want to know what the city plans to do with the property. Jennette suggested the Planning Board weigh in on the debate over what to do with the Evans Seafood property.
Councilman Darwin Woolard said although the city is “not in a rush to sell it,” it will not have “lost anything” by listening to the development proposal. Councilman Ed Gibson said reviewing a developer’s proposal doesn’t mean the city has to act on it.
Jennings said the city should, in some manner, determine what types of development would be appropriate for the former Evans Seafood property and what the financial effects of specific uses of that property could have on the city.
The property may be suitable for a “small, boutique hotel,” said Jennings, who added that if a hotel is built on the property that the remaining land in the 4.5-acre area be kept as green space or used in other ways.
He suggested city look at downtown sites that would be suitable for a small hotel. Another site may be better suited for such a hotel, Gahagan said.
At least two proposals for downtown hotels have come and gone. Other such proposal remains in limbo — in the planning stages but no construction contracts awarded, including the proposal to convert the former Hotel Louise into The George — Little in at Washington project.
In light of the council’s decision to have the Planning Board determine possible uses of the former Evans Seafood property, some council members wondered if the council should hear the developers’ proposal for the land.
If the remaining land is not used as green space, it may be suitable for an interactive fountain, amphitheater or similar uses that would allow it to remain accessible to the public, council members said.
For additional coverage of the council’s planning session, including discussion about possibly eliminating some services the city provides but is not required provide, see future editions of the Daily News.