“Most importantly, what is now a lunar landscape of parking lots and concrete ... will be converted into beautiful public spaces and green parks,’’ he wrote.
Morales acknowledged in an interview his recommendation would result in a significant scaling back of both proposals.
ACE has proposed 60,000-square feet of retail space on the ground floor of the garage, an additional 40,000 square feet of restaurant space for the new hotel, four apartment towers along Meridian Avenue, and a new cultural building between City Hall and the Jackie Gleason theater.
Portman has proposed 125,000-square feet of retail space sprinkled throughout the site, a Latin American culture museum and housing built into the convention center’s Washington Avenue facade, as well as four low-scale apartment buildings along Meridian.
“We are ready to work with the city manager, elected officials and staff on the various aspects of this project as it moves forward,” Jack Portman, Vice Chairman of Portman Holdings, said Monday in an emailed statement.
ACE did not respond to a reporter’s inquiry on Monday night.
Morales says his recommendation balances quality-of-life issues for the surrounding neighborhoods while allowing sufficient development to reduce the public burden. The result will be more green space and less impact on traffic, residential areas and Lincoln Road Mall merchants, he noted.
This does not alter the selection process, he said, which remains on track for a commission vote on July 17.
Morales said he won’t ask the competing teams to draw up new proposals, but will ask them for comments and responses.
“I can’t imagine they will be shocked by any aspect of this,’” he said. “We’re just trying to find the right balance.”
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