The village and a local developer are working on a deal that would secure more than 30 public spaces in a private parking garage proposed for Park Street.
The parking garage would be built in conjunction with a three- or four-story mixed-use building at 11 Park St., according to municipal manager Evan Teich, who said developer Brett Grabowski approached the village to see if it was interested in owning any of the spaces.
“Parking garage spaces are very expensive,” Teich said. “But we worked out an idea that we’d be interested in doing something like that as long as the parking was either on the first floor – ground level – or at worst the second floor.”
Grabowski has yet to submit plans to the village planning commission, so any deal would be contingent on the plan’s approval, Teich said.
The village is now negotiating a one-time payment for 33 public spaces, with the trustees authorizing the use of up to $100,000 from their economic development fund, into which residents pay a cent on the tax rate each year. Use of the fund requires they first warn a public hearing on the topic.
Explaining the rationale for such a deal, Teich pointed to a recent parking study that found while the village has adequate parking as a whole, the zone between Maple Street and Park Street could become an issue given the influx of planned development in the area.
“Adding public parking on the west side of the street was one of the areas we were going to have to look into,” Teich said. But thanks to the parking garage proposal, “the opportunity is now.”
Community development director Robin Pierce said the deal makes fiscal sense, too, pointing to Winooski, where the city recently bonded for more than $9.7 million to construct a 300-vehicle parking garage, which works out to about $34,000 a parking space. The trustees’ deal, meanwhile, would be about $3,000 a space, if the village spends a $100,000 overall.
“If the trustees can do that, that’s a pretty good deal for the village,” Pierce said.
There’s still some decisions – and red tape – standing in the way.
If Grabowski can secure financing for the project, the village will continue to work on a more official agreement that covers topics like how the village spaces would be maintained. And the planning commission still needs to approve the overall development plan.
Teich said he has no concerns that signing an agreement to the PC weighing in would pressure commissioners into approving the project.
“If the PC does not approve the deal, our deal goes away, but we would not presume to tell the PC what to approve or not approve,” Teich said. “We felt that as long as [the plan] in general met the tenants of the downtown plan, the PC can do its job.”
“They need parking,” Teich added of the developers. “We’re just going to control 33 of the spaces.”