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The Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved an agreement Monday, July 12, allowing town officials four months to access land north of the town square for a potential parking garage and perform all necessary studies.

The action included depositing $25,000 in earnest money, but does not obligate a purchase.

“There are two sides to this issue, but we are one community,” Mayor Stan Joyner said ahead of citizens’ comments.

For years, aldermen have wrestled with the idea of a parking garage on the square, but plans and renderings were presented for the board’s consideration in a September work session. Then the proposal was to gauge interest. Monday was the first official vote on the matter.

Patrons like to park near the shops and restaurants they visit and shop owners hope the garage option will help drive business.

However, a planned 55-room hotel with an event center is also part of plans by Frank Fitzgerald, a developer, and Hank Wright, an investor. The hotel would increase parking needs.

Some expressed concerns about lights, noise, crime and privacy. But those in support believe it could increase business on the square as people don’t like to walk far to shops and restaurants.

Joyner reminded residents the vote was to study.

Staff will complete a site assessment, preliminary plan, cost estimates and explore the possibility of tax increment financing (TIF) to pay for any debt that may be incurred by the town. In previous work sessions, the board has discussed the desire to create a TIF district to pay for the project as it would not only benefit Collierville but all of Shelby County.

“We will investigate whether the site is appropriate,” Joyner said Monday. “We will hold public hearings.”