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Gainesville's new downtown parking deck is open
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Gainesville’s new downtown parking deck is officially open.

City building inspectors issued a temporary certificate of occupancy for the deck Tuesday afternoon. The deck will not have a permanent certificate for at least another month when the deck’s elevators are installed, according to Gainesville’s Project Manager Jarrett Nash.

Construction of the $6.85 million deck at the Georgia Mountains Center has suffered months of delays, but Nash expressed relief that the deck would be ready just in time for the Christmas shopping season.

“The big push was to have it available for Friday for the merchants downtown, so it will be there,” Nash said. “I’m breathing a sigh of relief, anyway.”

Originally, the new deck was scheduled for summer completion, but contractors with Optum Construction, the local company managing construction, said heavy rains throughout the spring and problems with the company providing the deck’s elevators kept the contractors from meeting that deadline.

The completion date then was moved to the second week of October, the date of the annual Mule Camp Market on the downtown square, but contractors didn’t meet that deadline, either.

And earlier this month, the deck’s completion date awaited tests on a storm drainage pipe to ensure the pipe had no leaks that would cause future problems, Nash said.

The pipe, located between two supporting columns on the deck, could not have caused structural failure to the deck if it was leaking, Nash said, but it could have caused dirt to wash out underneath the deck and create a sinkhole-type effect.

But tests performed with ground penetrating radar that would have shown where dirt may have washed out under the deck showed there were no problems, and the deck opened Tuesday.

“It didn’t identify any voids or any problems with the storm drain pipe,” Nash said.

Crews will continue to work to install the deck’s elevators over the next month, but for now, the deck is suitable for parking. The four-level facility with two entrances and three exits can accommodate 419 vehicles. Designed by architect Steve Hill, the deck is designed to allow expansion to six levels.