Saratoga council backs parking garage plan
SARATOGA SPRINGS A proposal by the Saratoga Springs City Center for a $6 million to $9 million multilevel parking garage on city property off Maple Avenue was given conceptual approval tonight by the City Council.
Mark Baker, executive director of the City Center on Broadway, outlined the 500-car parking garage plan at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Baker started his discussion saying the City Center, which was expanded and renovated in 2010, increased its business by 33 percent in 2011 and is on schedule to have its best year ever in 2012.
Baker said the City Center Authority would plan and finance the structure, which would be located on city property and leased to the authority on a long-term basis.
The garage would be east of the City Center on existing city parking lots accessed from Maple and High Rock avenues. The garage would be built on two levels, with a two-deck garage off Maple and a four-deck garage behind it.
The garage would feature a “skywalk” leading into the City Center, Baker said, and would replace 188 existing parking spaces with 500. The first hour of parking would be free for everyone, but after that, a fee would be charged.
Mayor Scott Johnson said he thought the parking garage plan was an innovative proposal and would answer downtown parking needs. Some parking problems in downtown were answered this past July, when the city opened a 450-space, four-deck parking garage on Woodlawn Avenue.
“It would be cost-effective for the city. All the costs associated [with the project] would be borne by the City Center, not the city itself,” Johnson said.
Baker was joined by Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, and Todd Garofano, president of the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, as well as a representative of the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association, who all endorsed the plan.
All City Council members voiced their conceptual support for the parking garage at the meeting. The City Center Authority would negotiate a lease for the city-owned property as part of the plan.
Shimkus said this is an incredible opportunity for the city. He said an ongoing issue with the City Center has been a lack of dedicated parking for it.