You may recall that the city had proposed selling the neighborhood recycling center on Center Street to the Admiral Linen business next door, and that this move was opposed by residents in the area. The city is still considering this possibility, and the residents are still opposing it.
Harold Hayes, director of the city’s Solid Waste Department, said last week the department hasn’t shelved plans to sell the property at 3602 Center St. The city’s real estate division is searching for an alternate location for the recycling center, he said.
But residents in the area, who are organized as the Washington Avenue/Memorial Park Super Neighborhood Council, oppose the idea. The coalition’s president, Jane Cahill West, characterized the idea as “a fire sale” and a “sweetheart deal,” and said selling the Inner Loop property would be like selling the “crown jewels.”
City Councilman Ed Gonzalez, who represents the area, said Mayor Bill White intends to pursue the offer from Admiral Linen. He said he will host community meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the issue.
“It hasn’t been resolved where to relocate. I think that needs to be worked out. Should we sell the property, number one, and number two is, what’s the timetable to have an alternative plan? That’s where it is right now,” Gonzalez said.
Members of the Super Neighborhood coalition think the city should keep the Center Street property, lease part of it to Admiral Linen, then use the proceeds to develop a parking garage on the site which could help solve parking problems associated with the growing entertainment scene just blocks away on Washington Avenue, West said.
“Selling that property will be to the detriment of our community and to the city at large,” West said. “There’s not enough land in the Inner Loop as it is for the city to provide services we need.”
I don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of selling this location, if there’s a good alternate location in hand and the city gets a good price for it. But there isn’t an identified alternative yet, and West is correct that this isn’t such a good time to be selling prime property like that. Surely the city would fetch a much better price for the place in another year or so, by which time there may be a viable alternative that folks can live with. In the meantime, I think it’s worth exploring the option the Super Neighborhood folks have proposed, which might just give everyone at least some of what they want.