Springs officials consider bigger parking garage

Coral Springs’ plans for its downtown area just got bigger.

Even as the city’s plans for a municipal complex moves forward at a brisk pace, staff has sought Coral Springs City Commission approval to build a parking garage that is substantially bigger than the one originally planned. The project has been planned as a joint initiative of the city, the Community Redevelopment Agency and Amera Corporation, the master developer for the area.

The initial plan was to build a $4.5 million parking garage, with 350 parking spaces on three floors, along with the municipal complex. The new proposal is for a four-floor, 600-spot facility. The estimated project cost is $8.4 million, with the city’s share being $4.5 million.

According to the plan that is being considered, the city will borrow the entire amount but will be responsible for paying back only $4.5 million, the amount it would have spent if it constructed the 350-spot parking garage, and the interest accrued on the amount. The agency will cover the cost of the 250 additional parking spaces, which is $3.9 million, and repay the loan with Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars.

Amera Corporation, which has plans to tie up with another developer for projects that include retail, housing and entertainment, will pay the interest on $3.9 million until sufficient revenue is generated by the agency to repay the loan. The city does not intend to impose additional taxes to make the project possible.

The proposal was put forward by staff after the City Commission asked them to look into the feasibility of public-private partnership to build the 350-spot parking garage. The city got in touch with five firms, but its proposal wasn’t viable to any of them. Staff also looked into the possibility of surface parking for the municipal complex but recommended against it even through the cost would only be $2.2 million.

“Surface parking will devalue the commercial properties in the downtown area,” said Deputy City Manager Jennifer Bramley. “It will take up the entire site; there will be no space for anything else.”

Mayor Skip Campbell was willing to consider surface parking. “We certainly would have a fine city hall, and we would have parking for our needs,” he said. All of the other officials said they wouldn’t support the proposal.

Commissioner Joy Carter said she liked the idea of a parking garage but not its price tag. Commissioners Dan Daley and Lou Cimaglia were in favor of the city going ahead and making the 600-spot facility. Vice Mayor Larry Vignola, who sought and got commission support to table the item until the first City Commission meeting in April, said he wasn’t against the proposal but wanted more time before making a decision.

There wouldn’t be sufficient parking space for the public if the city went ahead with its original plan to build a 350-spot parking garage, said Commissioner Dan Daley. “It will be a city parking garage that the public can use in the evening. The additional 250 parking spaces are needed; if you want people to come to the downtown area, you need to give them a place to park.”

Campbell, who remained unconvinced, said it would be fiscally irresponsible to support the proposal, especially when there isn’t enough details available. He also reiterated his opposition toward using revenue bonds to fund the project.

The details of the proposed partnership will be worked out before the agency and the City Commission formally decides on it, said City Manager Erdal Donmez. “Having a larger garage is the right thing to do for the city, but it costs more money. If the City Commission does not like the idea, we will go ahead with the 350-spot parking garage.”

Amera Corporation’s George Rahael is hoping that the City Commission will support the plan for a bigger garage. “We will underwrite the interest costs until the TIF dollars kick in for CRA,” he said. “The taxpayer will not be impacted in any way. We are making it easy for the City Commission to make the right decision. It will be irresponsible to vote against the proposal.”

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-cspf-garage-0325-20150319-story.html?track=rss

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