City to Break Ground on New Parking Garage

garageOn July 21, the city held a ceremony for a 10-level parking garage at Fifth and Walnut streets that should be completed by fall 2010. The event was supposed to be a groundbreaking ceremony, but rain forced it indoors. It became a ribbon-cutting ceremony instead, and Mayor Darwin Hindman cut the ribbon using an oversized pair of scissors.

Before the novelty scissors made an appearance, Hindman and City Manager Bill Watkins spoke about the impact the parking garage will have on the city now and in the future.

Hindman said it’s important to provide parking if the downtown area is to thrive. Watkins said the parking garage is important because it is “Columbia’s first mixed-use parking facility” and it should meet many city needs in the future.

The parking garage will contain 703 parking spaces, 48 of which will be located in an underground area reserved for police parking. The structure will also have about 13,000 square feet of mixed-use space that will be used for retail or offices. The project costs about $15 million and will be funded through special obligation revenue improvement bonds. The bonds will be repaid using revenue from parking permits, and Watkins said no general tax funds would be used.

Construction will affect traffic in the area until the project is completed. Fifth Street is now one-way between Walnut Street and Broadway, and parking will only be permitted on the west side of the street.

Hindman said construction would cause local residents some inconvenience but said “the future is going to be well worth it.”

For more artist renditions of the parking garage, click here.

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