1. Archive

Parking garage sale on hold

City Council voted Thursday to postpone a decision on the sale of a Davis Islands parking garage after several residents said they wanted more time to review the deal.

Tampa General Hospital officials approached the city about buying the garage next to the hospital more than a year ago. Hospital officials have agreed to pay $29-million for it.

Davis Islands residents are concerned about including land between the garage and Seddon Channel as part of the sale. The residents think that will pave the way for Tampa General to build a new, seven-story, 1,400-space parking garage on waterfront property that will include part of nearby Marjorie Park.

Members of Davis Islands neighborhood groups don't like the idea of a garage on park land.

"We're chiseling away, bit by bit, at public land," said Davis Islands resident Rudy Fernandez.

The new garage is part of proposed additions to the hospital campus, which also include a 100,000-square-foot medical building for the University of South Florida and an additional floor on another planned building.

This summer, Tampa General filed a rezoning request with the city to allow the new construction. No hearing date has been set, zoning officials say, because there are too many unresolved issues.

The sale of the existing garage has nothing to do with the rezoning request, city attorney David Smith said, and the sales contract says Tampa General can't back out of the deal if the rezoning doesn't go through.

The land included in the sale of the garage is not park land, Smith said.

The land provides access to the existing garage, he said, and would only cost the city money for insurance and maintenance if the ownership of the garage changed.

The parking garage was built when TGH was a city hospital. The garage hasn't always been a moneymaker for the city, but now generates about $1.2-million a year.

Still, said city finance director Bonnie Wise, it makes more sense for the hospital to own the garage, which is used largely by TGH employees, physicians, patients and visitors.

Proceeds from the sale would allow the city to spend $5-million on parking spaces in downtown Tampa. The rest would go to pay off part of a $110-million parking system debt.

Neighbors also wonder if the sale price, based on an appraisal paid for by the city, is high enough.

"This is a big transaction for the city. We're not trying to stop the city from getting the money it needs," said Steve Stanley, president of the Davis Islands Civic Association. "We need more time to review the situation."

The hearing has been rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 27.

Janet Zink can be reached at 226-3401 or