COLUMBIA — Mayor Darwin Hindman said parking is an important part of a thriving downtown area during a ceremony Tuesday for a 10-level parking garage that's slated to be completed by fall 2010.
The parking garage, located at Fifth and Walnut streets, will have an underground area with 48 parking spaces for police. The structure will contain a total of 703 spaces, and it will also have approximately 13,000 square feet of mixed-use space that could be used for offices and retail.
The project will cost an estimated $15 million and will be funded by special obligation revenue improvement bonds. City manager Bill Watkins stressed during the ceremony that no general tax funds will be used, and the bonds will be repaid using revenue generated from parking permits in the new garage.
Transportation manager Ken Koopmans said construction will affect traffic and parking in the area. 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 acknowledged the inconvenience construction might cause for some in the area but said "the future is going to be well worth it." Watkins also expressed his approval for the project.
"This is a big building that I think will meet most of our needs in the years to come," Watkins said.
The city originally planned to break ground on the project Tuesday, but rain forced the ceremony indoors. The ceremony was held inside the police station's garage, and instead of breaking ground, Hindman cut a ribbon held by two people in attendance.