City to add parking downtown

500-space garage to be built on West Street property

`Necessary infrastructure'

Owner cuts $625,000, clearing way for $1.1 million purchase

June 16, 1999|By Matthew Mosk | Matthew Mosk,SUN STAFF

Annapolis will build a 500-space garage on West Street in an effort to ease the parking crunch and spur downtown reinvestment, Mayor Dean L. Johnson announced yesterday.

The city offered $1.1 million for a 37,000-square foot property that covers nearly a block, starting at the corner of West Street and Colonial Avenue. The deal is set to close tomorrow.

City officials praised Cecil Claggett Knighton for shearing $625,000 off the property's appraised value in making the deal.

"By virtue of his philanthropic gesture, we are now in the position to move forward with plans to build a state-of-the-art parking garage on inner West Street," Johnson said in a statement. It is "something we have looked forward to for many years."

The parking garage plan comes as area developers are showing a keen interest in the street that extends from historic Church Circle. For more than a decade, city officials have been focusing on the area as their top priority for redevelopment.

Construction was completed this year on a three-story office building at 151 West St. that has rapidly filled with tenants. Still in the works are a four-story hotel scheduled to open by next spring at 176 West St, an Irish restaurant at 35 West St. and a gourmet grocery scheduled to open in the fall.

Susan Zellers, the city's economic development director, said the garage would help alleviate a parking pinch that is likely to get worse as the West Street corridor is more heavily developed.

"You want as much development as you can get, but you also have to provide parking," she said. "You don't want to have it impact the quality of life of the nearby residents. It is becoming a necessary infrastructure."

Though acquiring the property is a big step toward bringing more parking to the area, construction of the garage could be more than a year off.

The city is negotiating the price for one of nine parcels on the block, the only one Knighton doesn't own. And no money was placed in this year's budget for construction.

Johnson said he hopes the city won't have to wait more than a year. Proposals have targeted the area for a parking facility since 1984.

"It's long overdue," he said.

Pub Date: 6/16/99

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