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Where is the promised downtown parking deck?
This site downtown will serve as a temporary lot while the city parking deck is built. - photo by Tom

After years of talk, the meter is finally running on construction of Gainesville’s planned multi-level parking deck.

In the next month, city officials plan to choose a contractor and prepare a temporary parking lot for use during the construction of a new deck, which will have nearly double the spaces of the city’s current deck.

Earlier this month, architect Steve Hill advertised a request for proposals, and contractors have until the afternoon of Aug. 14 to bid for the construction of the approximately $6 million project.

The advertisement was the first step in the process of getting the parking deck built — a process that seems to have been stalled in the months since city officials approved the plan.

Last year, when the city spent $1.85 million on the Greater South Supply Co. property at 320 Maple St., City Manager Bryan Shuler said the city planned to raze the electric supply building and use the property as a temporary lot during construction in early 2008.

Now, plans for the deck’s construction are waiting for, among other things such as the delivery of steel, the end of the Christmas holiday shopping season, Shuler said.

With steel in short supply, the city learned in March that the steel needed for the deck’s construction would not come in time to complete the deck before this year’s peak shopping season, and that a new parking deck would have to wait until 2009, Shuler said.

"We didn’t want to start the parking deck in the middle of the year and have it under construction during the peak shopping season," Shuler said.

But as soon as the holidays are over, the city will have everything lined up to be out with the old deck and in with the new one.

The Greater South Supply Co. property should be demolished by the end of August, and by
October a 90-space parking lot should be complete, said Jarrett Nash, project manager for the new deck’s construction.

The lot, half the size of the city’s current deck, will not be an adequate replacement, and Nash said city officials expect people to use the county’s parking deck in the six months it should take to build the multilevel, 419-space deck.

The deck will have three elevators, two of which will serve the Georgia Mountains Center side of the deck, about 420 spaces and promises to be more visually appealing than the current deck, Nash said.

Designs call for the deck to have brick accents

fashioned in a pattern similar to that on the downtown square, Shuler said. And unlike the current deck, the new deck will not have a "dungeon space" — Nash’s term for a basement level. Instead, the deck’s first level will be at street level, and will be built in a way that will allow for future additions.

"Overall, it’s a much more architecturally appealing deck," Nash said.

The planned parking deck will extend over the entrance to the Georgia Mountains Center, an issue that caused concern in the early days of design. Some worried that the covered entrance would affect the aesthetics of the mountains center. But Shuler said the covered walkway will stay in the plan, because it maximizes the potential of the parking deck. Without it, the deck would have about 50 fewer spaces, he said.

A new downtown deck has been in the works for years. Adding on to the current deck proved too expensive, in part because the 28-year-old structure does not meet modern building codes.

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