Janesville74°

Parking talk ramps up

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
April 22, 2008
— At least two and maybe three parking ramps will be needed downtown, and City Manager Steve Sheiffer has pegged the site of the former parking ramp as the priority for the first.

Sheiffer is recommending that a ramp with three or four levels be built at the corner of Parker Drive and Wall Street at a cost of $3.1 million or $4.1 million.


A parking ramp there was torn down in 2003 because the concrete had deteriorated.


Discussion of a parking ramp is expected when the city council considers its annual borrowing note, said Brad Cantrell, community development director.


Sheiffer wrote in a memo that parking is needed to stimulate economic development, and that became obvious during recent discussions with an investment firm looking to buy and remodel the building known as the Helgesen building at 101 E. Milwaukee St.


The result of that discussion “indicated that the building would never be viable without accessible parking,” Sheiffer said.


In addition, Sheiffer said he would include money in the 2009 budget to analyze parking options near The Armory and Monterey Hotel at High and West Milwaukee streets.


Sheiffer said a ramp likely would be needed in five years in the area of The Janesville Gazette building and One Parker Place.


“Without adequate parking in close proximity to major activity centers like the former Helgesen building, current redevelopment efforts will languish,” Sheiffer said.


The area near the Helgesen building would remain a priority even if the proposed development falls through, Sheiffer said.


The “lack of parking readily accessible to our major office buildings has provided a disincentive in attracting office uses in the downtown area, and thus deterred private investments,” he wrote.


“The administration believes that the city should become more proactive in providing parking in the downtown area,” Sheiffer wrote.


Sheiffer recommends that a four-level parking structure be built if the Helgesen building redevelopment happens. That would provide 251 spaces, with 120 of those spaces assigned to the Helgesen building.


He proposes a three-level structure if the development falls through, providing 186 parking spots with the option of additional levels if demand increases.


The surface lot has 84 parking spaces. Occupancy was 69 percent in 2006 for the 41 two-hour spaces. Because of the sloping site, access to the lower level of the structure would be from Wall and Main streets and to the second level from Parker Drive.


A second site for a garage east of the river would combine the existing city-owned surface parking lot between Main Street and Parker Drive with about 60 feet of land to the north owned by Johnson Bank.


The city-owned lot contains 53 spaces. The Johnson Bank lot could be reconfigured so 37 surface parking spaces remain and access to the drive-up windows accommodated. A two-level structure is proposed for the site.


Engineering for construction could begin in fall, Cantrell said.



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