At its Oct. 19 meeting, at Vice Mayor Kelly Kirschner’s suggestion, the City Commission will discuss acquiring a vacant plot of land at Palm Avenue and Ringling Boulevard to use for public parking. It’s a possibility, although not a strong one, that the lot could replace the Palm Avenue parking garage.
“Surface parking is preferred to garage parking,” Kirschner said. “If we can get nearly the same amount of parking spaces as the garage, we should look into it.”
M&I Bank owns the vacant land and has asked real-estate broker Ian Black to negotiate a deal to lease the property to the city. The bank is also offering the city 300 unused parking spaces in its garage.
“It would be one-tenth the cost of the (Palm Avenue) garage,” said Kirschner.
No firm price was disclosed, but Black said the space could be leased for $5,000 per month. The city is currently requesting bids for construction of the Palm Avenue garage, but cost estimates are about $8 million.
“Not many people think $8 million for a garage and attached retail is a good idea at this time,” Black said.
“The parking need the garage is based on is from five years ago. It’s not necessary now.”
City Manager Bob Bartolotta said real-estate brokers have offered the city the M&I property two or three times before. He doesn’t think that it would be a replacement for the Palm Avenue garage, because it’s further away from Main Street than the proposed garage.
“It could possibly be used in addition to the garage,” Bartolotta said.
Black said he’s afraid building the garage on Palm Avenue will devalue the property, because it’s only utilizing a portion of the available land there. He said previous development proposals, such as the conference center/hotel/garage project from Githler Development, are much better suited to that property, because they would use all of the available space.
“It’s like putting a prefab home on the waterfront,” he said.
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