TREASURE ISLAND — Despite no firm commitment from the business community, the city of Treasure Island is going ahead with a feasibility study to determine the best way to build and operate a parking garage downtown.
City commissioners agreed to hire Tim Haahs Engineers & Architects, a company that specializes in parking-related design and planning services, to look at ways the city can develop a parking garage. The study is expected to cost $10,000.
The company is based in Philadelphia with offices in Miami, Atlanta and New Brunswick, N.J.
City officials had hoped to develop a public-private partnership to build and operate the garage with businesses like the Bilmar Beach Resort and the Walgreens on Gulf Boulevard. Officials at both businesses have said they would benefit from additional parking.
But in a recent meeting with representatives from the two businesses, along with a representative from Sloppy Joe's, none said they were ready to get involved, said City Manager Reid Silverboard.
He said that Walgreens won't be replacing its store for at least five or six years, which would drive its need for extra parking. The Bilmar is concerned about "tying up its property to help competitors," he said. The Bilmar owns land across the street from its gulfside resort and city officials had talked about using that property for the garage.
But Silverboard said there is other property that could be used, such as the Windjammer Resort Motel that is for sale at 10450 Gulf Blvd.
"We all recognize there is a need for downtown parking. It is going to be the key to redeveloping downtown," he said.
A feasibility study would determine what usage a parking garage would have during different times of the year, how much money it would generate and other details, Silverboard has said. A parking garage with several hundred spaces would cost between $2 million and $4 million, he estimated.
Planning and zoning board member Mitchell Shenkman suggested enticing a developer to build a garage.
"It is a wonderful opportunity for someone to come in and redevelop downtown and help with the parking problem, too," he said.
Mayor Bob Minning said that although the city doesn't yet have buy-in from local businesses, they definitely have shown interest.
"My gut feel is that in the future there probably will be one," he said. "It makes sense, the city needs it and private businesses need it."