Columbia mayor finds funding for Short Street garage problematic

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 | 10:36 p.m. CDT; updated 11:48 a.m. CDT, Monday, September 26, 2011

COLUMBIA — Mayor Bob McDavid said he was unhappy that the city is being pressured to decide on purchasing land for the proposed Short Street parking garage.

At a City Council work session on Tuesday, council members discussed spending $1.25 million to purchase land to build the proposed garage adjacent to the Regency Hotel. McDavid said Broadway Lodging LLC, which owns the land and has a tax-increment financing agreement with the city worth roughly $3.2 million to redevelop the hotel, told the city it wants an answer on whether it will purchase the land at the March 21 council meeting.

"They told us we've gotta decide by Monday," McDavid said.

McDavid said he thinks the funding for the garage is problematic, and he is unsure if he can support the acquisition at the next meeting. He also said the Regency Hotel redevelopers got "too sweet of a deal."

"I'm not happy with the deal," McDavid said. "We've given up too much."

The council went over options to pay for the proposed garage, including raising downtown parking meter rates and extending the evening cutoff for meter enforcement from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"The general public needs to know that, if we approve this, we are approving parking rate increases," McDavid said. "That's a part of the deal."

Monday, the Special Business District said it would support a city plan to build the garage and the possible increase in downtown metered parking rates. McDavid said at the work session that he wanted to make sure the board was OK with raising rates.

Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine told council members he looked at other parking rates in communities with Big 12 Conference schools. On average, he said, the parking meter rates per hour were higher than 75 cents. Columbia's meters are 30 to 50 cents per hour.

"It's cheaper to park on the street than it is in the garage," St. Romaine said.

An analysis of the city's parking facilities estimated revenue would increase by $278,145 if all rates were increased to 50 cents per hour in 2012. If the city increased the rate to 60 cents, the estimated additional revenue would be $199,731. The meters were projected to generate roughly $870,500 in 2011.

If parking meter hours were extended to 9 p.m., the analysis estimated additional revenue would be $120,000.

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