The city is fielding numerous calls from businesses interested in being the first to locate in the Palm Avenue parking garage. It hopes to sign contracts with all of the businesses it chooses within the next two or three months.
The garage’s first floor will be devoted to retail space. The original plan was for 12,000 square feet of retail, but some businesses may want more space.
Currently, the plan is to make the store space 60 feet deep, but some businesses are requesting a depth of 100 feet.
“Restaurants, for example, want a deeper depth,” said City Manager Bob Bartolotta.
Although he would not reveal specifics, Bartolotta did say that there were other types of businesses besides restaurants that were showing interest. They include property-management companies that want to either buy or lease the space and then sublet to a retailer; businesses similar to those already on Palm Avenue, such as galleries, jewelry shops, etc.; and a drug store.
Downtown residents have been wanting a downtown drug store for years — one within walking distance.
The closest one right now is the Walgreens at Fruitville Road and U.S. 301, but Bartolotta would not say whether one of the interested retailers is a local or national drug store.
He did say, though, that the interested businesses include a mix of local stores and national chains.
With some businesses requesting larger stores, it’s possible the total retail space could reach 16,000 square feet.
According to project manager Steve Stancel, the garage is designed in such a way that the back wall of the retail section could be moved further back without affecting the structural integrity.
However, it could result in the elimination of up to 23 parking spaces. The original design calls for approximately 740 auto spaces and 70 bicycle spaces.
The garage is scheduled to be complete in December.
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