Competition for prime parking spots on Gainesville’s downtown square grew fiercer Monday, Sept. 24, with the closing of the Main Street parking deck for expansion.
But Gainesville native Bill Colbert didn’t mind, even though he had to spend a few extra minutes looking for a place to park and walk to The Collegiate Grill on Main.
“It’s understandable,” he said, as he studied the crane put in place on Main as part of the project.
“This is a temporary situation. I think a lot of people can’t be patient and deal with it. But when it’s all over, it’ll be great. They’ll (repave) Main and we’ll have more parking.”
With cranes, scaffolding, blue fencing and orange construction barrels surrounding it, the 410-space deck has closed so 180 new spaces can be added.
The deck will be expanded using structural concrete panels being made off site, brought up Main Street on tractor-trailers and hoisted into place using the crane, said Angie Kennedy, marketing director for Carroll Daniel Construction.
The deck is scheduled to reopen in late November. Main Street between Jesse Jewell Parkway and Spring Street closed to traffic Wednesday, Sept. 19, and is expected to reopen in late November.
Sidewalks on Main Street will stay open so people can access businesses.
The city will operate a free shuttle from locations near the square every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday until Nov. 30.
Pickups are about every 15 minutes, and stops include:
Intersection of Main and Washington streets
Spring Street lot on the square
Hall County Courthouse parking deck
Old Gainesville City Hall
Ramada hotel on E.E. Butler Parkway
Wells Fargo building on Jesse Jewell Parkway
Regions Bank on E.E. Butler Parkway
Brenau University at Tiger Way
Northeast Georgia History Center
“We have worked hard to create a parking plan that serves the needs of everyone affected by the deck expansion project,” Gainesville spokeswoman Nikki Perry said. “As with any plan, we will continue to evaluate its effectiveness and make adjustments as needed.”
Don Rock of Purchase Effect, a multicultural accessories and home decor store at Washington and Bradford streets, described the deck closing’s impact on business as “growing pains.”
“We’ve just got to get through this,” he said. “Once it’s done, we’ll have more parking, and that’s what we’re always looking for.”
“I think it’s positive change,” Colbert said. “It’s better than (the area) getting rundown. As far as the change, no matter what you do or don’t do, somebody’s going to like or not going to like it.”
Two new levels are being added to the four-story deck to accommodate growth expected downtown, including a $20 million mixed-use project, Parkside on the Square.
Also under construction is a four-story, $12 million building, anchored by Carroll Daniel’s new headquarters, at Main and Jesse Jewell. The building, slated to be done in June, also will be open for retail, restaurant and office space.
Earlier this year, Gainesville City Council approved about $4.5 million in public financing for several new developments and renovations planned for the downtown square and West Academy Street perimeter, including funds to expand the parking deck.