COLUMBIA — The new parking garage at Fifth and Walnut streets is nearly finished and should be open in mid-January.
At a cost of about $14 million, the new 10-level garage will have 703 spaces, including 48 underground spaces that will be used by the Columbia Police Department, as well as retail space on the ground level.
Parking spaces will be leased to city employees, businesses and individuals, Columbia Public Works Department spokeswoman Jill Stedem said. A total of 120 hourly public spaces, 440 covered permit spaces, 82 uncovered permit spaces and 13 spaces for people with disabilities are available.
There already is a waiting list to lease spaces in the structure, Stedem said.
Parking prices will be the same as those for other city garages. Additional information about purchasing permits is available on the Public Works website.
The projected revenue for fiscal 2011, which began Oct. 1, was $126,160 for hourly and leased spaces. That number, however, was calculated when city officials expected the garage to open in December. The number will change because the garage will not be open until mid-January.
Regional Economic Development Inc., or REDI, will use part of the ground-level retail space. Under an agreement authorized by the City Council on Dec. 20, REDI will lease the space for seven years. In exchange for a deferment of rent, REDI will obtain funding to build out the space, which will become the city's property. After seven years REDI can continue to lease the space at market rates.
Workers are installing glass panels in the stairways, the retail space and on the north side of the structure. Glasswork on the northwest corner of the garage will incorporate the "Sky Algorithm" design by artist Stuart Keeler.
Outside the post office in the shadow of the garage on Tuesday, patrons acknowledged that new parking will be necessary as Columbia grows, but they lamented what some called an eyesore.
"I'm not sure if I am ever going to park in it," Columbia resident Brenda Aviles said. "I know we need it, but I'm not sure this was the place. It changes the whole look of downtown. I don't know if I like how it blocks the views."
Residents with post office boxes have watched the garage grow daily during the past several months.
"I am assuming its necessary, but I don't imagine I'll ever use it," Ann Roehlke, a post office box customer, said. "I'll be down here every day, and I'll parallel park."