According to City Manager Jim O’Connor, a group of local developers, whom he declined to name, have presented a tentative proposal for building a three-story, 170-space parking garage, 9,000 square feet of retail and 20,000 square feet of residential space along South Ocean Drive.
If likely objections from neighborhood groups to another three-story parking garage on South Ocean Drive do not derail the proposal for development of what is now the Humiston Park overflow parking lot, the project will face at least one other hurdle related to title on the propoerty. It appears the land still belongs to the County.
According to one source, in exchange for opening the garage to public use, the developers might ask the City to give them the land, or to sell it at a discounted price. Questions have arisen, though, about who actually owns the property. In 1944, the Indian River County Commission gave the City permission to use the land for a park. The Commission’s resolution was never followed with an actual deed transferring title to the City. Before the City can even consider selling or giving the land in exchange for parking rights, it will first have to get clear title to the property.
According to city staff, the initial concept calls for the developers to buy land adjacent to the municipal parking lot that currently accommodates overflow parking for Humiston Park. The city’s parking lot, also home to a popular Saturday morning open-air farmers market, accommodates up to 50 cars. The proposed parking garage would have space for more than three times as many cars.
According to City Attorney Wayne Coment, the title issue on the property could be cleared with a quit claim deed from the County. In an email to County Attorney Dylan Reingold, however, Coment wrote, “I spoke with Jim O’Connor (City Manager) on this and unless the City has Joe’s (County Administrator Joe Baird) and your support for the transfer at no cost to the city then we don’t envision moving forward with any proposal to clear any cloud on the title to the parking lot used for Humiston Park.”