After nearly 20 months of design work, construction on the State Street parking garage should finally begin next month.
The project received a final blessing from the City Commission Monday, as commissioners approved the guaranteed maximum construction cost for the project. A.D. Morgan, the firm in charge of designing and building the garage, determined the guaranteed maximum price to construct the garage is about $10.6 million. That total brings the overall cost of the project to $11.4 million, a $4.1 million increase from the original budgeted cost of $7.2 million.
City staff explained the additional costs would be partially covered by downtown Community Redevelopment Area funds. An additional $1.7 million will be allocated to the project via loans from the city’s fleet liability and workers compensation funds.
Commissioners gave the project its final go-ahead in a 3-2 vote. Even those commissioners who voted in favor of accepting the construction costs expressed a concern about the rising price.
Commissioner Susan Chapman said she was voting for the project to move forward because she felt bound by the decisions of prior commissions. An agreement with the developers of Pineapple Square requires the city to have a garage in place at State Street and Lemon Avenue by February. Chapman attempted to focus on the bright side, considering the protracted process through which the garage has gone.
“I’m not happy with the price, but I am happy with the design,” Chapman said. “I think we need to just bite our tongues and go forward.”
Phil Pagano, manager of the Sarasota Farmers Market, said a larger parking footprint is needed in that area of downtown. Counts conducted earlier this year indicated 12,000 people attended the farmers market on one day in February, with 1,500 cars coming through the area near Lemon Avenue.
“This garage is going to be exactly what the farmers market needs,” Pagano said.
Mayor Shannon Snyder and Commissioner Paul Caragiulo voted against moving forward with the project considering the construction costs.
“I think this is a pretty egregious expenditure for what we’re getting,” Caragiulo said.
Before casting his vote, Snyder referenced the agreement with Pineapple Square, saying he didn’t feel it wasn’t significant enough to justify the expense of the garage.
“It would be cheaper for us to buy Pineapple Square than it would be for us to build this garage,” Snyder said.
Construction on the garage is scheduled to begin in mid-May. Substantial completion is expected by February, with final completion coming in March, according to Chief Planner Steve Stancel.
The five-story State Street parking structure will include 399 parking spaces and approximately 15,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level. A private developer will construct a five- to six-story, 5,040-square-foot “pad site,” consisting of residential or office space, next to the garage along Lemon Avenue.
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