TREASURE ISLAND — Officials have dropped plans for a parking garage after determining the project isn't viable based on the city's expected parking revenues and the structure's approximate $6 million price tag.
"There is not enough demand — you would have to use all the parking revenue in the city to support it," City Manager Reid Silverboard told commissioners. "It's just not feasible."
To increase limited downtown and beachfront parking, the city hired a consultant to look into building a garage and was considering two sites: across from the beach on Gulf Boulevard and 104th Avenue, and the City Hall location on 108th Avenue. If that site was chosen, the city would have to raze the building and build a new City Hall elsewhere.
But after studying the costs involved, Silverboard said neither location would be financially sound.
A beachfront garage would provide 432 parking spaces in a four-story structure at a cost of $6.7 million. The city would be better off buying property to the north of the current beachfront parking lot and extending that lot, Silverboard said.
At the City Hall location, a parking garage would provide 327 spaces at a cost of $5.4 million. But Silverboard said there is not enough current demand for downtown parking to fill a large parking garage. And the expense of building a new City Hall might be cost-prohibitive given the city's finances.
Commissioner Carol Coward said the only way she thinks a parking garage would work is through a public-private partnership. City officials recently approached several businesses about joining with the city in a project, but talks stalled.
Commissioner Tim Ramsberger was critical of the consultant's report for not providing enough information, as well as its cost: $10,000. He also questioned how the city will continue to allow special events on the beach with limited parking.
Three beachfront hoteliers are planning to sue the city to restrict events because of congestion.
What happens next may depend on private developers.
"It's a chicken and the egg thing," Mayor Robert Minning said. "If we are going to get the downtown redeveloped, does the city provide it or does a developer come in and provide parking for their development? We are going to have to wait and see a little bit."