COLUMBIA — The plans for the Short Street parking garage continue to move forward.
What happened: On Monday night, the Columbia City Council approved hiring Walker Parking Consultants to design the new Short Street parking garage. At its last meeting, the council approved the city's purchasing of the land from the Regency Hotel redevelopment group, Broadway Lodging LLC.
The garage will be next to the Regency Hotel redevelopment, but is being built and funded by the city.
Walker Parking Consultants will be responsible for developing options for the new parking facility. It will prepare drawings that will show traffic flow and levels of the garage, parking space count, elevator and tower locations and location of the entrance and exit lanes.
The consulting firm will also give estimates for construction costs and evaluate construction bids.
Walker Parking Consultants have chosen Peckham & Wright Architects to assist with the project. Peckham & Wright also worked on the $14 million Fifth and Walnut Street garage.
Walker Parking Consultants has worked with the city on previous projects. The firm did a parking study for the city in December 2010. It also had an earlier agreement with Columbia in January 2008 for Phase I of a Short Street project, but no work was completed and money was not spent.
Cost: The consulting firm will be paid $514,600 for its services. The city has already set aside $32,500, according to the bill.
Comments: While he voted to approve the hiring, Mayor Bob McDavid said he has a “minority opinion” about the consulting firm. McDavid said as a cardinal rule a parking garage should blend into its surroundings.
“I don’t see that what was taught to me as a cardinal rule having been carried out on the Fifth and Walnut (garage),” McDavid said. “It certainly doesn’t match the skyline; it is the skyline of Columbia.”
McDavid said he has strong feelings about the new garage and he wants there to be oversight throughout the process.
“I really want it to match the skyline,” McDavid said. “It needs to be fully integrated with the new hotel.”
McDavid also said he is more concerned about what the garage looks like than the number of spaces.
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe asked if there would be compact spaces and electrical outlets in the new garage. She said outlets should be looked into because of electrical cars in the future.
Carrie Gartner, executive director of the Columbia Special District Board, said her board is requesting more time to look over the proposed parking meter rate increases. The rate increases have been proposed as a possible way to help pay for the garage.
“We are asking for you to table the question of parking rates for three months,” Gartner said. The bill had a first read at Monday's meeting.
Gartner also said it would be helpful if parking rate increases were stalled so there would be more time for designing the garage to determine parking rates, talking to members and having more options “for addressing this problem.”
Director of Public Works John Glascock said during the discussion that he is very supportive of Walker Parking Consultants.
“They are the Cadillac of parking consultants,” Glascock said.
What’s Next: If the parking meter rate increases are approved at a future council meeting, the Plaza, Cherry and Sixth Street, Cherry and Eighth Street, Cherry and Tenth Street and Fifth and Walnut Street garages will have hourly parking rates of 60 cents an hour. Garage rates are currently 50 cents an hour.
The bill would also increase on-street metered parking rates to sixty cents an hour, and extend meter hours until 9 p.m. Rates are currently 30 to 50 cents an hour.
The increase in parking rates would generate $597,000 annually, and $249,000 in 2011, according to the bill.
If passed, the new rates are scheduled to start May 2.