City's plan for garage advances

Council approves panel's suggestions for new parking site

`There's a desperate need'

West Street effort involves renovation of five old buildings

July 12, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

After months of study, the city of Annapolis is moving forward with plans to build an often-discussed parking garage on the Inner West Street Corridor.

The council voted late Monday night to follow the recommendations of a committee of residents and business owners charged with investigating uses for the garage and business complex at West Street and Colonial Avenue. The 11-member committee made its presentation at the council's regular meeting.

Based on the group's plan, the city will soon begin accepting proposals to rehabilitate the five 100-year-old buildings at the site for small-scale retail and private development. The group also suggested forming a design committee to recommend an architectural plan and to conduct a traffic study.

"This should not drag on," said Ronald H. Jarashow, the committee's chairman, at the council meeting. "There's a desperate need for parking."

To move things along, the council passed a motion introduced by Ward 1 Alderman Louise Hammond that requested proposals for renovating the properties as well as constructing another building at the site. The council also agreed to seek the necessary subdivision approval for the garage, proceed with a design committee and begin the traffic study.

"There's a great interest here that things be done as expeditiously as possible," Hammond said.

The city has budgeted $8.6 million to develop the complex, to be called the Knighton Facility, but progress has been delayed by concerns about the historical significance of the five buildings, as well as the size of the garage and the use of commercial space.

The city had planned to raze the buildings along with two others at the 37,000-square-foot site last fall, but preservationists stepped in to protect the century-old structures.

At that time, Mayor Dean L. Johnson promised to conduct studies of the site before any demolition. Since then, the two other buildings were razed, and Johnson created the committee to study possible uses for the garage in March.

The committee's report recommended preserving the existing buildings to maintain the structurally diverse character of West Street, constructing another building at the corner of West Street and Colonial Avenue to provide screening for the garage and designating the height of the garage.

If the city does not receive an adequate proposal for renovation of the buildings, the report said, the buildings could be razed with replacements constructed. They would contain a mix of commercial and residential space.

The report said the additional construction would complete pedestrian linkage along the block. It also said the garage should have four floors above ground and two below with 288 to 432 parking spaces.

The committee also recommended the city consider robotic technology for operation of the garage.

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