Mayor plans 7 garages for downtown parking City seeking help from private sector to build 3,050 spaces

Development DTC

November 20, 1998|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

In an effort to draw more businesses to Baltimore and keep others from leaving, the Schmoke administration is planning seven parking garages for the city's downtown, with the first 2,500 of 3,050 spaces becoming available over the next five years.

The mayor, who met with local business owners and city officials this week about parking problems downtown, said the project will cost $69 million. He said the city will need financial help from the private sector to build the garages.

"There's just no way that the city could continue to bear the cost of building more garages," the mayor said.

Laurie Schwartz, president of the private Downtown Partnership Baltimore, said she thinks the business community will help.

"I know there are businesses committed to the city that are willing to help identify creative financing options," she said.

Schmoke said some businesses have threatened to leave the city because of a lack of adequate parking when their building leases end in 2000 and 2001. The mayor would not identify the companies.

Any such loss would be unwelcome as the city's tax base continues to be eroded by a 1,000-person-a-month exodus from the city. Officials are working to attract residents and businesses to Baltimore to bolster revenue.

George W. Balog, director of the city Department of Public Works, said the city is seeking to acquire property for the seven proposed garages. He would not identify any sites because of efforts to buy the land, but he said the city is targeting the Charles Center area and the downtown business district.

Three of the garages will have 350 spaces each, and the remaining four will have about 500 each, Balog said.

Schmoke said the administration has been talking with the Maryland Stadium Authority about using the stadium lots and ferrying people to their jobs on shuttles.

In addition to the new parking spaces and the proposal to use the stadium lots, Balog said he wants commuters to take advantage of public transportation.

Schwartz said additional parking spaces are long overdue. She said a 1997 study by her organization found that downtown Baltimore needed 3,615 more parking spaces.

The city has about 24,000 spaces in the downtown area, Balog said.

Schwartz said that urging commuters to use public transportation will not solve the problem because Baltimore's mass transit system is inadequate.

"One light-rail line and a subway line do not make a comprehensive mass transit system," she said.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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