Tired of circling the downtown Gainesville square, waiting for a prime spot on busy evenings? Now, downtown visitors have 410 new places to park with the opening on Friday of a seven-story parking deck at 100 Brenau Ave.
“You hear all the time that parking is tough downtown,” said Brian Daniel, President and CEO of Carroll Daniel Construction, which built the parking deck. “I’m here to tell you as a resident and as a business owner in downtown Gainesville, it’s a myth. We have great parking now, and we’re just adding to that capacity.”
The deck was funded by both Gainesville and Hall County, with the city contributing $4 million and the county paying $5 million using special purpose local option sales tax dollars. Voters approved the one-penny sales tax to fund the project in 2019.
“When you get good projects like The National on the west side or Bourbon Brothers coming online in the next year, Standard Service — when you get these projects you’ve got to have the infrastructure,” Mayor Sam Couvillon said at a ceremony Friday. “You’ve got to have the parking.”
The National, a 130-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel with a 157-unit apartment building, is expected to finish construction in spring 2023. Bourbon Brothers, also expected to open in early 2023, will be a large restaurant and concert venue downtown. These developments and others, such as new restaurants like Taqueria Tsunami and Cotto, which are expected to fill in space at Gainesville Renaissance on the square, are expected to require greater parking capacity.
“What I envision going forward is people like us here getting used to having a little walk,” Couvillon said. “The downtown square only has so much capacity to park. We’re going to get used to parking here (at the deck), parking on the south end.”
The downtown area now has about 1,700 parking spaces between three parking decks and public street parking, Couvillon said. The deck is seven stories tall and about 160,000 square feet, a little smaller than the 600-space Main Street parking deck down the street.
All parking remains free downtown, and there has been a lax approach to enforcing “2-hour parking” signs along most downtown streets while so much of the area is under construction. But City Manager Bryan Lackey has told The Times previously that parking rules could change in the months following the new deck opening.
What used to be a section of Brenau Avenue next to the deck is still under construction with plans to create an outdoor patio area with a water feature across the street from Gainesville Library.
“This has been a huge, huge thing for us,” Library Director Lisa MacKinney said. “It is actually going to be mission-changing for us and our ability to serve this community.”
It will provide more parking and access for the library as well as an outdoor area for library activities.
The outdoor patio space should be complete by Labor Day, said Jess Hughes, the project manager for the deck.