The ACC Commissioners approved the construction of the new 520 space parking deck unanimously on Tuesday, with developer Batson-Cook building the deck and sharing the costs with the county. The deck will sit at West Washington and South Lumpkin, in an area where residents and downtown business owners had previously addressed concerns.
The Commissioners felt that the need for increased parking downtown, plus the 2004 SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) specifically called for the money to be applied to a new parking structure once the planning processes were completed. The Commissioners also noted that there are currently more than 400 people waiting for parking permits downtown, and that these could be accommodated within this new deck while still leaving spaces for daily use.
Under the current plan, the county will put forward 11 million dollars for the deck, with the developer putting forward 6 million, and in return getting the leasing rights to the ground and top level business spaces that are also being created.
This deck will charge more for parking, with a graduated rate increase to $2.50 in 2013 from the current $1.50. While the Commission said that this new construction will not raise parking in all of the downtown area, they eventually expect all parking to be the same rate. So in fact, the parking rates in all of downtown Athens will eventually climb to $2.50, probably on a concurrent basis with the rates in the deck, mainly because it will make the tallying of parking fees "easier" by charging the same amount.
However, according to the Commission, they have created a plan and voted on it and it can not be turned aside now for any reason. While few will say that Athens does not need more parking, it is the issuing of multiple levees of long-term intrest bearing bonds for this issue that is the real point for many Athenians.