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Fri, Feb. 28

City ponders parking garage issues

PRESCOTT – With about four months remaining until the start of the downtown parking garage construction, the city still has a number of preparation steps to complete.

Among those is a decision about the management of the garage – who will be in charge, and how much it will cost to park in the structure.

Recently, the city received four proposals from national parking firms who want to take on the management of Prescott's new garage on Granite Street. In addition, the city has made a proposal of its own for managing the garage in-house.

A committee consisting of a number of city officials has been reviewing the proposals and interviewed the companies about two weeks ago.

City Manager Larry Asaro said the committee likely will meet again next week, and then will take a recommendation to the Prescott City Council in June.

At issue is whether an outside firm would be best able to manage the garage, or if the city should handle the management.

"We're not sure if the city gains as much (through a management firm) as if the city does it itself," Asaro said.

For instance, he pointed out that private companies may have a different goal than the city in management of the garage. While the city wants to provide a convenient place for shoppers to park downtown, an outside company may be more focused on turning a profit.

The four companies that submitted proposals are: Central Parking System; Standard Parking; Ampco System; and HOAMCO.

Asaro said all four are large national firms, all of which manage parking garages in the Phoenix area.

Economic Development Coordinator Greg Fister said all of the proposals would require the city to pay a yearly fee to the companies to manage the garage. Any revenue from the garage would then go to the city.

The fees in the proposals range from about $75,000 for the first year to about $120,000.

Fister pointed out that much depends on the fee structure that the city comes up with for the garage.

"The big issue is the daily parking, and that is an issue the City Council has to hash out," Fister said.

In late 2000, a citizens committee recommended a fee schedule to the City Council. Under the committee's system, the first hour in the garage would be free, and the second hour would cost $1.

After that, the cost would go to $2 for up to four hours, and $4 for more than four hours.

The committee also suggested that the city charge $4 a day to park in the garage during special events such as the Christmas parade and the July 4 celebration.

But so far, the City Council has made no decision about a fee structure.

Asaro said some of the proposals made recommendations about how the city should handle its fees.

Along with the management issues, the city also is still awaiting the final plans, design and costs from its partner in the project, M3 Companies.

Originally, the city and developers planned to begin construction on the garage in March, with the completion before Christmas of this year.

That changed in early March, however, when a re-engineering of the project pushed the start of construction off for about six months.

Now, Asaro said, the city expects to take the final plans and design to the City Council in August. M3 likely will have bids from contractors by that time, he added, so the city will have a more definite figure on the costs.

"We want to start right after Labor Day with construction," Asaro said. That should put the completion date in about March or April 2002.

Even though the city and developers have plenty of time to get all of the plans and management issues resolved, Asaro said the garage work "is still progressing, and people are working hard on it."

The project involves a public parking deck, along with a privately-owned apartment complex and office space. The city will pay approximately $4.2 million for its share of the building, while M3 will pay about $6 million for its portion.

Contact Cindy Barks at

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