COLUMBIA — A new parking garage will be built on Short Street, and to help fund the garage, the city is looking into re-evaluating parking garage rates and increasing parking meter rates.
What happened: At its Monday night meeting, the Columbia City Council unanimously approved an agreement to buy property for a new parking garage on Short Street. The city is buying the land from Broadway Lodging LLC, the company redeveloping the Regency Hotel.
The council approved several amendments to the bill before passing it. Broadway Lodging will lease 100 spaces in the garage. The council created an amendment to increase the rate to $60 a month for each spot. The city will not pay more than 5.2 percent on the bonds used to help pay for the garage.
Cost: The city will buy the land from Broadway Lodging for $1.25 million. It will cost $7 million to build the 300-space garage.
At a work session last Tuesday, the council and city staff discussed how the city could pay for the garage. Options included increasing downtown parking meter rates to as high as 60 cents an hour and extending the meter hours to 9 p.m., according to a previous Missourian report.
On March 14, the Special Business District Board said it would support the plan to build a new garage and raise the parking rates. The support was important to city staff and Mayor Bob McDavid, who wanted to make sure the board agreed with raising rates.
Comments: During the public comment, many members from the community spoke about their support for the project. Stephens College President Dianne Lynch said she was concerned with parking near Stephens College because parking at the college is in high demand.
McDavid, who supported the garage, said the garage will be costly and the city needs to come up with ways to fund the project.
Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser and First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz both said they wanted to see the parking garage be built higher than the planned five levels.
What’s next: The council will start looking into increasing parking rates downtown to fund the garage. McDavid said he also wants to re-evaluate how each parking garage is priced.
McDavid added he wants to assemble a parking task force because the city needs a long-term strategy for downtown parking.
On the agenda, the council was introduced to a bill that would give Walker Parking Consultants the rights to plan and design the new Short Street garage. The fees would not exceed $514,600, the bill stated. The bill is scheduled for a vote at the next council meeting.
If passed, Walker Parking Consultants, which did a parking study for the city in December 2010, would design options for the parking facility. City staff recommended the consulting firm because of its experience.