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Wed, April 24

Council gets glimpse of garage

PRESCOTT – City Council members got a look at the future of the Granite Street parking garage this week, when the developers and architect presented drawings and even a photograph of how the building will look on the downtown street.

The Prescott City Council conducted a workshop Tuesday afternoon to hear an update on the planning for the garage. The meeting included a presentation from M3 Companies, the firm that will build the garage, and architect Rex Mason on the design of the mixed-use building.

One of the questions that has come up during discussions about the parking garage is how the five-story, 60-plus-foot-high building will look in Prescott's historic downtown.

Bill Brownlee of M3 acknowledged that the parking garage will be a "large building." But, he added, "we feel it fits in well with the downtown architecture."

The developers showed a number of drawings of the parking garage from different angles to give the council a feel for the size and massing of the building. For instance, one of the drawings showed how the garage would look to someone walking around the Courthouse Plaza.

"From the east side of Montezuma Street, you cannot see the garage building," Mason said.

Even so, the garage will be a dominant presence on Granite Street. Developers showed a photograph of the street, onto which they had super-imposed an illustration of the garage. The building will include not only the parking deck, but 52 apartment units and office space as well.

This week's meeting set off a chain of events that could culminate with a start of the construction on the garage building by early January. City officials say the project could be done by August or September 2001.

But first, the council must approve two lengthy agreements, as well as the 30-percent design. City Manager Larry Asaro said the matter will be back before the council for a final decision on Oct. 10.

"Once the design/build agreement and the project agreement are completed and you've seen the 30-percent design, then we really have a project; we're committed," Asaro said.

Most of the council's questions centered on details of the two agreements, which total more than 50 pages.

City staff emphasized that the agreements are still in draft form and still require more information before they are final.

"We wanted to bring it to you, so if you have any heartburn with any of it, we can get it out and not waste time," said Greg Fister, economic development coordinator for the city.

The design/build agreement deals with matters concerning the schedule and construction of the garage. It states that the developers will build 500 parking spaces, 80 of which will be private to serve the apartments.

In addition, the agreement states, the developers will be responsible for all of the architectural and engineering work, as well as getting the necessary building permits.

The project agreement deals more with the long-term relationship between the developers and the city. For instance, the agreement states that M3 has the right to convert the apartments to condominiums in the future, but that it must pay the city a "conversion fee" to cover the amount of rental sales tax the city would lose through the switch.

Councilman Robert Behnke had a number of questions about the two agreements, but he said they were "too numerous" to bring up during the workshop. He and Councilman Tom Reilly plan to discuss the agreements further with city staff next week.

At the same time that the negotiations on the two agreements have been going on, an ad hoc parking committee has been meeting to try to resolve some of the parking management issues.

Fister said the committee has concentrated on matters such as leasing of parking spaces, hourly rates for the garage, and how the city will handle on-street parking.

The committee should be ready to bring its recommendations to the council by Oct. 17, Fister added.

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