When the city created a concept design for the Palm Avenue parking garage last spring, it did so to better compare proposals from bidding contractors.
Now that a construction company has been chosen, the city is open to alternative designs.
City commissioners asked the design/build team of Suffolk Construction and Jonathan Parks Architect to come up with two alternative designs and present them to the public for input within the next 45 days.
It’s a tight deadline, but Suffolk agreed to begin construction April 1 and be complete by December.
Chris Gallagher, a Jonathan Parks Architect designer, presented one preliminary alternative design at the Jan. 4 City Commission meeting.
It looks less like a parking garage and more like the European-style Citrus Square development on Orange Avenue, which Gallagher also designed.
“We’re in a position to redefine what a parking garage is,” said Commissioner Suzanne Atwell.
The garage will have a strip of retail stores on the ground floor, and Gallagher said the storeowners will not want their storefronts to look exactly like their neighbors.
“If you built a mall and told tenants they were all going to have identical storefronts, they’d think you’re crazy,” he said. “They want to be different, to create their own brand.”
Whatever the exterior of the garage ends up being, the interior will most likely remain the same.
Nearly 750 parking spaces will be spread out on five levels. Commissioners unanimously rejected an option that would have allowed for three additional levels to be built on top of the garage in the future. That additional space could have been used as a restaurant or conference center if a hotel were built in the adjacent vacant space.
The garage design also calls for no parking on the entrance ramp to avoid the backups seen in the garage next to Hollywood 20.
It will also have three entry/exit lanes that can be adjusted. So before big downtown events begin, such as the New Year’s Eve party, there can be two entry lanes and one exit lane. And as the event ends, there would be two exit lanes and one entry lane.
With all costs factored in, the construction of the garage is expected to be $12.1 million.
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