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Sun, Sept. 22

City Council puts parking garage in gear

PRESCOTT – The downtown parking garage project is now officially "off and running."

By four unanimous votes Tuesday, the Prescott City Council set in motion the process that will lead to a nearly $4 million parking garage on Granite Street in downtown Prescott.

Months of negotiations and planning preceded the council votes on the four issues: the 30-percent design; the water service agreement; the design/build agreement; and the project management agreement.

Although the council members had several questions for city staff and for M3 Companies, the developers who will build the garage, they were in agreement that the project should move forward.

After taking four consecutive 7-0 votes, Councilman Robert Behnke told M3 representatives: "You're off and running."

As the city and M3 plan it, the garage will occupy the space that currently serves as a public parking lot on Granite Street. The lower levels of the building will serve as the parking garage, while the top floors will house 52 privately owned apartments.

City officials say the construction of the garage should begin by February, and it should be complete by October 2001.

For the past several weeks, developers have been crunching the final numbers. Last week, the council expected to vote on the four agreements during a special meeting. But the estimate on the total cost of construction was not ready, so the council postponed a vote.

By Tuesday, however, the developers had supplied the estimate for the total cost: about $3.9 million. That is within the city's budget.

"Both the city and The M3 Companies want to be assured that we are not going to exceed the targeted budget amount of $4 million for the public parking garage portion of the project," said City Manager Larry Asaro in a memo to the council.

Added Asaro: "City staff is comfortable with the fact that The M3 Companies have met the objective of staying within the budgeted amount for this facility."

Even so, a number of questions arose during the council meeting about several issues, including drainage, the estimated cost of some of the items, and how the city will handle parking during the eight- to nine-month construction schedule.

For instance, Councilman Steve Blair voiced concerns about how the city would deal with the loss of about 140 parking places in the existing parking lot during the construction phase.

"Nowhere have I seen a mention of the displaced vehicles during construction," Blair said. He suggested the city should come up with a plan to use some of its parking lots in other parts of town, such as Ken Lindley Field, and shuttle people to downtown.

Mayor Sam Steiger agreed that the city should come up with a plan for handling the parking during construction before crews break ground on the garage.

Asaro said city staff would bring back information on handling the situation by late December or early January.

He added that the city will also have to decide how to deal with Granite Street, which likely will serve as a "staging area" for the construction of the garage.

The water service agreement allocates water from the city's alternative resources for the 52 apartments in the building. The design/build agreement sets out the responsibilities of the city and the developers during the construction phase. And the project management agreement deals with how the city and the developers will co-use the building in the future.

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