By Wesley Brown
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Frustrated with doing almost daily battle with courthouse traffic for parking downtown, retailers and shoppers neared some relief on Tuesday night when the Greenville Redevelopment Commission voted in favor of a parking deck at the corner of Cotanche and Fourth streets.
In a recommendation likely to pass the City Council next week, the commission unanimously supported transforming the city-owned Moseley Lot — which studies show as frequently under used — into a four-story parking garage.
The 120-by-190-foot deck would provide an additional 256 spaces, cost $3.8 million to build, take six months to construct and generate more than $175,000 in annual revenue for the city, Greenville Economic Development Officer Carl Rees said.
“It’s a great time to do a parking deck,” Rees said. “Construction and lending costs remain near record lows, and … we have established a need.”
Parking complaints, on the rise since 2010, have reached an all-time high in downtown Greenville, city officials said.
Merchants are competing with the county and federal courthouses. Employees cannot afford leased parking or to leave work mid-shift to move their vehicles from one- or two-hour spaces. And many shoppers have given up altogether, heading to strip malls throughout the city for the convenience of drive-up parking, a report in August by The Daily Reflector showed.
More than 90 percent of retailers downtown are in favor of a parking deck, and close to 66 percent oppose leased parking, according to a survey by Uptown Greenville, a nonprofit chartered to revitalize downtown.
Rees, who led a review on downtown parking in 2010, said the city probably could do without a parking deck. But as Greenville starts to bring redevelopment projects online, which estimates show will require 120 extra spaces, Rees said the city will use up all its parking, and the downtown area will have trouble “prospering.”
Rees said the parking deck would have a life span of 50 years, stand 36 feet tall and cost about $76,800 a year to operate and maintain without an attendant on duty.
The garage would include an elevator, energy-efficient lighting, emergency call boxes and security cameras.
Rees said its design would fit the building landscape of the city’s urban core. The deck could have retail shops on the bottom floor and solar panels on the top floor that could double as carports for vehicles.
Under the initial plans, the first three floors, which cover 192 spaces, would be leased at $52 a month. The top floor, with 64 spots, would be unlimited metered parking at a rate of 75 cents an hour. Night and weekend parking would be free.
The proposed rates would create a $29,000 annual budget gap, Rees said — the city has saved $1.8 million for a parking deck and would have to borrow $584,000 to build the garage.
Redevelopment Commissioner Judy Siguaw suggested increasing leased parking rates to $60 month — an additional $8 could provide an extra $24,500 in revenue.
“That would still be a bargain and would really help close the budget gap,” Siguaw said. “Sixty dollars a month is only like $2.50 a day. That’s next to nothing.”
Chris Mansfield, vice chairman of the Redevelopment Commission, said he believed the proposal looked strong on paper.
“We may be spending $29,000 in the maintenance of the Moseley Lot as it is,” Mansfield said. “It is possible to get to revenue neutral.”
Rees said the rates merely were a starting point and were based on figures local developers said customers could and would pay.
Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.
via The Daily Reflector.