Gainesville has approved funding for expansions to the Main Street parking deck, with renovations set to begin later this year.
Additions to the deck are scheduled to start Sept. 24, and the deck and a portion of Main Street will close at that time and reopen in late November. Construction is expected to go through January. The bottom four floors of the deck will open before the newer two upper floors, city spokeswoman Nikki Perry said.
The addition will bring 180 new parking spots to the deck, bringing the total number of spots to about 600.
Construction on restrooms on the first floor of the parking deck began earlier this month. That construction, funded by the city’s hotel-motel tax, is not impacting pedestrian or vehicle access to the deck. The restrooms, which are scheduled to open after Thanksgiving, will be monitored and cleaned daily by city staff.
Perry said the city is anticipating growth downtown and wants to encourage people to visit the area by offering more parking.
“As downtown businesses have been expanding, and as we’re looking at new businesses such as Carroll Daniel’s new facility and new downtown living opportunities, we felt that it was very important to provide a place for people to park,” Perry said. “Sometimes parking in a downtown can be a deterrent for business. We want people to feel like they can easily park in the deck and walk downtown to businesses and future homes there.”
Carroll Daniel Construction is currently building a new headquarters office on Main Street, and the upcoming Parkside on the Square development will have both retail space and condominiums.
The city is partnering with the Gainesville Redevelopment Authority for the project, and the authority met Tuesday afternoon to award a $4.695-million bond to Regions Bank for the construction. The Gainesville City Council unanimously approved the funding later on Tuesday.
Gainesville’s midtown tax allocation district, which invests increases in property tax revenue back into the area, is helping pay for the project.
“As property increases in value due to a developer’s investment, the city will eventually collect more property taxes based on that increased property value,” Perry said. “So they can borrow money against that future increment of increase, and that’s what the bonds are for.”
The funding also includes a proposed pocket park between the upcoming Parkside on the Square development and the Hall County Courthouse Annex. The park would connect the downtown square and Roosevelt Square, and the Highlands to Islands trail would run through it, City Manager Brian Lackey said at the redevelopment authority’s Tuesday meeting.
Perry said the pocket park will hopefully provide a place for people to enjoy downtown Gainesville and visit the square’s other park spaces while they are in the area.
“It will be more of a lounging area, a place where people can hang out and maybe go to a coffee shop and get a cup of coffee and come and sit down,” Perry said.
The square will also have free wi-fi by then, she said.