Columbia has been looking into building a new downtown parking garage on Short Street.
The garage would have 300 spaces and cost $7 million to construct. To build the garage, the city would have to buy the land from Broadway Lodging LLC for $1.25 million. In the agreement, Broadway Lodging would lease 100 spaces for its customers.
On Monday, Columbia City Council tabled the proposed agreement that would approve the acquisition of the garage.
At the meeting, Mayor Bob McDavid was supportive of tabling the bill.
"What we've learned tonight is that the owners of the Regency intend to build a boutique hotel that is going to be a gem of the city whether we put a parking garage in or not," McDavid said. "Secondly, we've learned that there is not enough money in the Parking Utility to build this garage without parking (fee) increases."
Tony St. Romaine, assistant city manager, said at the meeting government needs to supply parking garages for businesses. He also said garages supply indirect income.
"When (residents) come downtown, they spend money in bars and restaurants and movie theaters," St. Romaine said. "As a result of that, those sales taxes come back to the city."
To pay for the garage, Columbia would consider increasing parking meter rates. Currently, metered parking prices are $.30 per hour downtown. On Tuesday, at a meeting of the Special Business District Board, St. Romaine said Columbia's meter rates are low compared to other cities in the state. He suggested raising the prices to $.50 or $.60 per hour.
The City Council will review the proposed agreement at its March 21 meeting.
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