After demolition on April 14, gone is the former Turner, Wood and Smith building on downtown Gainesville’s 100 Brenau Ave. block.
In its place — following an estimated 18-month buildout, according to city officials — will be the Gainesville North Parking Deck that will add 400 parking spaces downtown.
By 2022, the parking deck, funded by both the Gainesville and Hall County government, should be a big piece of the city’s evolving downtown parking infrastructure.
“The structure should be completed by the end of 2022, providing ample parking on the side opposite the Main Street Parking Deck,” said Christina Santee, spokesperson for the city of Gainesville.
Currently, there are 1,780 parking spaces stretched across Gainesville’s downtown district. An ongoing focus for city officials in recent years has been identifying prime parking spots within walking distance of the city’s popular downtown spots.
“The city is always working toward meeting the needs of the community and available parking is no exception,” said Santee. “The city feels it provides residents and visitors ample parking within proximity to downtown retailers and restaurants.”
The new North Parking Deck will be the city’s third parking deck in the downtown area joining the 600-space Main Street parking deck and the Hall County parking facility.
While the city has identified the need for more parking decks, according to Santee, it isn’t the preferred choice for Gainesville shoppers and downtown drivers.
“In the Main Street parking deck, most parking spaces are located just minutes by foot to visitors’ destinations,” said Santee. “Unfortunately, the city recognizes visitors would often rather park just outside their destination instead of utilizing the parking decks, despite it being much quicker than circling the square in search of a spot.”
According to the city’s Unified Land Development Code, off-street parking requirements are determined by existing site use such as residential or retail, with the exception of properties that are zoned Central Business, which includes all of downtown Gainesville.
“For these properties, there are no off-street parking requirements,” said Santee. “As a result, parking is provided either on-street or in one of the existing free public parking decks.”
For residents with disabilities such as Susan Greenway, who has multiple sclerosis, finding suitable parking spots downtown can be challenging.
“I drive around the square four times, about 5 minutes, looking for a parking spot and then I will usually leave,” said Greenway. “There is handicap parking on Main Street, Washington Street, and Spring Street. I am not good with distance but I would guess around several 100 feet.”
In a prior interview in March, Santee told The Times that the city is planning to add five handicapped-accessible parking spaces in conjunction with the city’s ongoing Downtown Streetscape Improvements Project that began in August.
The project will provide ADA-compliant parking spots on Bradford Street (between Brenau Avenue and Washington Street), two on Green Street (one at the corner of Washington Street and the other one adjacent to the old Regions building), one on Spring Street (near its intersection with Bradford Street) and one on Washington Street (adjacent to SunTrust).
Georgia code requires that for a parking structure between 300 to 401 spaces, at least eight handicap spots are needed.
Downtown Gainesville is set for a massive face-lift in the next few years as megaprojects such as the Gainesville Renaissance, the National and Solis Gainesville projects are either underway or set for groundbreaking in the coming months.
Gainesville Renaissance will include a private pedestrian bridge that connects to the existing Gainesville parking deck.
The National project will provide approximately 100 residential units and offer underground parking for its tenants and visitors.