By Susan Larson
The Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority (EDA) voted unanimously to provide up to $15,000 in matching funds to pay for a joint parking study with Fredericksburg City Council.
City Manager Tim Baroody, who said he’s been directed by City Council to build a new parking deck in downtown Fredericksburg by 2018, asked the EDA to partner with the city to fund the analysis. “I think there clearly is a parking issue downtown, but it’s not clear to me that it’s so urgent we need to spend $10 million by 2018,” he said.
Baroody said a second parking deck would cost that much, when you figured in land construction costs. “Before we make plans, I want to know our parking inventory, current demand, and estimated future demand. I want an update of the January 2006 analysis.” The 2006 study was completed by Desman Associates for about $50,000, in advance of construction of the parking deck at Wolfe and Sophia Streets, Baroody said.
The actual cost of the new study will be determined as the city obtains bids. “We’re going to obtain quotes and come back in month or two asking for a specific level of financial assistance,” he told the EDA before their vote. The EDA capped their funding at no more than $15,000.
Baroody wants the study to address current usage of the pay-for-parking deck at Wolfe and Sophia Streets, mapping of all downtown parking, and best practices for free versus paid parking. He said consideration is being given to a new color-coded system, to make it simpler for people to understand which parking is available when — 24/7, after hours, weekends, and for two hours.
The city manager told the EDA two “high-priority spots” have been identified and are being studied as potential locations for a parking deck. He could not provide the locations yet, because they were discussed in a closed meeting with City Council. He did say he’s concerned about building a deck on the riverfront, as that property, in his opinion, would be better suited for highlighting the river.
EDA Chairperson Amy LaMarca said she’s heard from business owners along William Street, concerned that parking is too far from their businesses. “They’re concerned about the city investing in a $10 million parking deck that still would not service their businesses,” she said.
Baroody said parking is an important factor for economic development. “I’m hoping this study can give us a sense of what we know is in the pipeline with the Wack and WJ Vakos & Company buildouts, and look beyond just what we need today.”
The $46.3 million Liberty Place mixed-use development in downtown Fredericksburg is being developed by Liberty Place Partners, LLC, an affiliate of Wack General Contractor. It’s planned to include a three-level parking facility with 273 parking spaces — 119 would be 24/7 public parking and another 30 would be available to the public on weeknights after 6 p.m. and all day on weekends.
WJ Vakos & Company purchased The Free Lance-Star properties on Amelia and William Streets for their William Square, LLC, project.
Editor’s Note: The cost and name of the 2006 study was added to this story after it had already been published. The study is available for public viewing in the city manager’s office at Fredericksburg City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St.
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