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Whiskey's demolition approved for parking lot

August 21, 2013 - The parking lot is on.

After a brief hiccup halting the Whiskey's Steakhouse parking lot project, the DDA board voted last Tuesday, August 13, to continue with the demolition.

Village President Ken Van Portfliet along with DDA Secretary Thomas Traurig, owner of the Village Trophy Shop, voted not to approve the bid by Best Demolition at a special meeting August 6, which brought plans to a standstill for a week.

The vote at that time was 4-2 in favor of passing. Although a quorum was met, the vote did not pass because five votes were needed for a positive outcome.

Best Demolition of Saginaw was awarded the work a week later with a 5-1 vote, with tentative plans to begin tearing down Whiskeys and tearing up its small parking lot starting on September 9.

The DDA and village council are taking bids for the actual construction of the new, 40-space parking lot, which would begin after September 24 when demolition is expected to be complete.

Construction of the lot would last from early October to late November, with Nov. 30 being the target date of completion.

Of the two bidders for the demolition, Best Demolition won with their cost of $29,750. The entire project is budgeted for $180,000.

Sagebrush Cantina owner Dia Zaraga donated the two properties—the actual building and the adjoining parking lot—to the village for $1 earlier this year.

A deal was made that the village would waive some fees for use of the second floor at Sagebrush for the business.

The Property Conveyance and Development Agreement was signed by both Zagara and the village on May 6, 2013, and is currently going through Lake Orion's Planning and Commissions board.

"We're not Birmingham. We're not trying to be Birmingham, but we would like to do something to make it more convenient for our community," said Janet Hartman, DDA Market Manager. "Forty parking spots to some people may seem small, but for people waiting in line for an hour or more to get their dinner, I'm sure they will be grateful for them."

Over the past couple years Hartman has received complaints about the lack of parking in downtown Lake Orion for dining at lunch and dinner and shopping during the day.

Additional parking has been added on residential streets, but there is also a lack of education on Lake Orion's parking situation, she said.

"Telling people where they can park on site, what's two hours, People just want to park as close as they can," she explained.

The 40 additional spots will not only help curb the "phenomenon" of people not wanting to walk over a block to their destination, but will help current and future businesses too.

"(Parking) is always a problem for people depending on the type of business that you have. They may have loading or unloading needs. They may not have parking close by. It's always an issue for people," she said. "That's why strip malls took off the way they did in the '70s. People liked having that parking and the businesses responded to that."

"Whatever we can do to make things easier for businesses to come here we should be doing," she added.

Hartman said she never likes tearing down buildings, but that lots in downtown Lake Orion—spaces available for new parking lots— are few and far between.

"People have said over and over they really need more parking down here. So I think as long as we're not messing with the historic buildings that contribute to our national registry status, it is what it is."

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