Hotel’s landscaping, parking discussed at meeting

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2017

LaGRANGE – Work on the Courtyard by Marriott hotel continues every day and the city is trying to make sure the hotel’s landscaping and parking are ready to go.

As progress continues on the hotel, the topic of the hotel’s landscaping and parking situation came up again during a brief break from the numbers at last week’s city budget meeting.

The city has played a major role in helping determine the exterior appearance of the hotel since the project’s beginning, leading to design updates, including brick to match other downtown buildings and plantings to be installed in front of the hotel. According to the project plans, the plantings are set to be a variety of landscape beds in front of hotel windows and small trees closer to the road.

“I was just in Greenville, South Carolina for a conference there about the revitalization of downtown Greenville, and their mayor back in the ‘80s had the vision of the trees in the downtown area, and they have been well maintained, and they are beautiful, and it really makes downtown Greenville what it is today,” City Manager Meg Kelsey said. “So, I’ll tell you, I’m a big advocate of trees as long as they are well maintained.”

While the council was in favor of greenspaces, Councilman Nick Woodson voiced caution that the city select the right variety of trees for downtown, and Councilman Mark Mitchell expressed concern for drivers turning out of the new parking deck in light of the combination of tree plantings and parking near the exit. It was noted that some parts of the plan might require further review, including parking spaces that may no longer be ideally placed due to recent additions to downtown.

“Council will remember that Mayor (Jeff) Lukken basically commissioned somebody to go through downtown and find every possible space you could put a parking space in, and I understand that because parking is obviously an issue, but over the last few years – with the deck being built, the Bull Street, Solomon’s parking lot, the deck behind Del’avant – there may be some places where parking spaces are becoming more of a nuisance then they are a help,” Mayor Jim Thornton said. “

We have some sight distance issues where we went in and put in a lot of parking spaces in a lot of places that had not historically had them.”

The plans for the parking deck lists it as having 199 spaces, which would more than replace the handful of spaces that would be considered for removal to maintain the sight distance required for both safety and Georgia Department of Transportation standards.

The Courtyard by Marriott’s initial landscape plan shows four parallel parking spaces on the front of the hotel, which councilmembers noted would probably be short term parking.

The plan reviewed by the council still requires approval from Marriott. The hotel is scheduled to open in the fall.