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A new parking deck is planned for downtown Gainesville. Here’s what comes next
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A rendering of the planned parking deck in Gainesville. (Courtesy city of Gainesville)

Update, Dec. 15: The Gainesville City Council voted Tuesday, Dec. 15 to approve an agreement with Hall County to build a parking deck in downtown Gainesville, with the county and city partnering to fund the project.

A new parking deck planned for downtown Gainesville will soon take a step forward, with construction expected to begin in early 2021.

The 400-parking-space deck will be built at 100 Brenau Ave., and will replace the former Turner, Wood and Smith building that has since housed a temporary library branch and early voting location. 

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The city purchased the lot in 2016 for $1.5 million, then leased it back to Turner, Wood and Smith, an insurance company that has since moved to another office in Gainesville. 

The deck will be jointly funded by Gainesville and the county, with the city contributing $4 million and the county paying $5 million. Gainesville is responsible for engineering and construction for the project, according to an agreement the Hall County Board of Commissioners will vote on at its Thursday, Dec. 10 meeting. Gainesville will then have to approve the agreement, though that meeting date has not been set yet.

The city and county will pay for the project with funds from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VIII, a 1% sales tax approved by voters in 2019 that local governments can use for capital expenses and special projects.

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said the city has yet to select a construction company for the project but hopes to begin work soon. The Turner, Wood and Smith building is an early voting location for the Jan. 5 runoff, and early voting will finish Dec. 31. After that, Dunagan said, demolition work could begin to prepare the site.

The new parking deck is one of several changes downtown Gainesville will see in the next few years. Gainesville Renaissance, which will have eight condominiums along with retail and restaurant space, is under construction on the downtown square. The second floor of that building will house Brenau University’s  Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling. That development is set to open in late 2021.

Across the pedestrian bridge over Jesse Jewell Parkway, Solis Gainesville is also under construction. That development, due to open in 2022, will have 220 apartments and 10,000 square feet of restaurant or retail space. 

The parking deck will be across the street from the recently renovated Gainesville branch of the Hall County Library System, and some parking may be set aside for library employees or patrons, according to the agreement. 

Dunagan said officials have long wanted more parking in that area.

“The city really wanted some more parking on that side of town to accommodate the businesses, and also with the new library expansion, the city and the county did a joint venture,” Dunagan said.