Plans to add parking for UPS move forward, but no word on Hilton Commons

Theresa Clift
Contact Reportertclift@dailypress.com

The city's Industrial Development Authority has proceeded with its plans to replace parking spaces for a Hilton-area United Parcel Service facility, with demolition of a former miniature golf facility wrapping up now.

But there is no word on the current status of Hilton Commons, a $200 million residential and commercial development Drucker and Falk is planning to build on 110 acres where the mostly vacant Camp Morrison Industrial Park now sits.

As planned, Hilton Commons would encroach on one of the parking lots UPS now uses.

Worried that the UPS facility would leave — it employs more than 700 and is one of only two package-tracking facilities in the country — the IDA stepped in to replace the parking spots.

"We ran through every single scenario possible to figure out how we could provide spaces for them," said Bryan Witt, manager of special development projects. "It's a lot of high-paying jobs, they've been there for 20 years, and most of them live in the city."

The authority ended up buying and demolishing Play A Round Golf and Games, at 89 Nelson Drive, to add a parking lot there. The lot will be constructed by late fall, city Development Director Florence Kingston said.

The IDA also purchased a two-acre parcel on the other side of the UPS facility, part of a parking lot that is supposed to be used for Hilton Commons.

Kingston said she believes the development plans for that land will proceed. She declined to comment further on the Hilton Commons project, as did City Manager Jim Bourey.

The IDA will replace those parking spaces after it demolishes one of the Camp Morrison Industrial Park warehouses after Jan. 1.

Hilton Commons would replace the mostly vacant Camp Morrison Industrial Park, which is tucked behind a strip mall anchored by Food Lion off Warwick Boulevard.

Plans for the development originally called for about 1,000 units, but that was scaled back to about 640 after nearby residents raised concerns about density, traffic and drainage issues. The 640 units were to include about 200 single-family homes, more than 100 units in duplexes and more than 200 townhomes, as well as office space, a restaurant and parks.

Construction was expected to begin in 2015 or 2016, the Daily Press reported in February 2013.

It is unclear whether those plans have changed.

Wendy Drucker, managing director of Drucker and Falk, did not return multiple calls and emails from the Daily Press during the past two weeks seeking updates on the project. Other employees of the firm referred calls to Drucker.

Drucker serves as vice chairwoman of the Economic/Industrial Development Authority Board, but did not participate in the discussion or vote on the IDA's purchases related to the project last summer.

Building permits have not yet been issued for the property where Hilton Commons is planned, city spokeswoman Kim Lee said. Witt, the special development project manager, said building permits are not issued until construction is ready to begin.

UPS has agreed to purchase both parcels from the IDA for about $2.5 million after the lots are added, leaving the IDA's total amount spent at $1.5 million, Witt said.

In the end, UPS will end up with fewer parking spaces than it had before, down from 931 to 808. But UPS officials told city officials that would be enough, even with plans to hire more, Kingston said.

Clift can be reached by phone at 757-247-7870.

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