City OKs $47 million for 4 parking garages 1,600 spaces called critical for downtown

November 26, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Baltimore yesterday approved spending $47 million to build four municipal parking garages with 1,600 new spaces that city leaders view as critical in retaining and attracting downtown businesses.

The city Board of Estimates approved construction spending for:

A $7 million garage with 330 spaces near Paca and Pratt streets. The facility will provide parking for the city Convention Center, Camden Yards and the University of Maryland. The ground floor will be occupied by Maish's automobile repair shop.

A $12 million garage bounded by Liberty, Clay and Lexington streets that is part of the city's $350 million downtown renovation plan. Its 325 spaces will provide parking for new offices, shops and apartments that the city hopes will be developed through the downtown revitalization.

A $16.1 million garage with 660 spaces at the former Southern Hotel property at 1 Light St. The garage -- included in plans for a 35-story building with hotel, office and retail space -- will serve the central financial district, an area that seriously lacks parking space, city officials said.

A $12 million financial district parking garage with 355 spaces to be built in the 100 block of Redwood St.

Last week, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke announced that downtown Baltimore will need seven new parking garages to draw more business to the city and to keep current operations from leaving.

A 1997 study by the Downtown Partnership determined that downtown Baltimore needed 3,615 additional parking spaces. The city currently has about 24,000 spaces in the downtown area, according to city officials.

The 1,600 new spaces would become available over the next five years, Schmoke said. He hopes to retain several downtown businesses, which have leases expiring in 2000 and 2001, that have complained about inadequate parking downtown.

The mayor is looking for help from the city's private sector to pay for completing the remaining parking lots, with the total cost reaching $69 million.

Laurie B. Schwartz, president of the Downtown Partnership, a coalition of business leaders, called yesterday's action crucial to downtown.

"There is no issue of greater interest to the downtown than parking," she said. "Business leaders welcome today's news." In other action, the board approved a $250,000 loan to Saints Plaza Development Corp. for development of a community-based restaurant and senior center in the Coppin Heights area.

The nonprofit group plans to develop the Heaven's Gate Eatery on a vacant lot on the southeast corner of North Avenue and Smallwood Street.

Mount Hebron Memorial Church will help build the $705,000 facility.

Pub Date: 11/26/98

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