DDA Spends 400K On Parking

October 6, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Downtown Development Authority is spending $400,000 on two of the district's parking facilities this fall, an outlay that comes on top of a multi-million dollar investment the board made earlier this year for a new surface lot.

And when board members meet this week, they could learn that they may be selling one of their primary downtown lots to a southeast Michigan development firm that wants to build a multi-screen movie theater on the site.

The DDA recently agreed to help fund repairs needed for the

Front Avenue NW
parking ramp that serves the public museum. Repairs have been estimated at $304,000, which includes design cost and contingencies, and the DDA committed $200,000 to that project.

"Most of the repairs to the parking structure are waterproofing-related, with minor amounts of concrete repairs," said Mark De Clercq of Walker Parking Consultants.

Walker Parking, based in Kalamazoo, evaluated the condition of the 11-year-old ramp and concluded that it was in good shape with minimal deterioration. The work will involve basic repairs and some preventive maintenance.

The DDA also agreed to give another $100,000 for repair work to the pedestrian ramps and walkways near the PearlStreetBridge and the along the Grand River directly behind the museum, which is located at

Pearl Street
Front Avenue NW
. That amount will cover the cost of the entire project, which Walker Parking estimated last April to run $96,200.

Some of the concrete slabs and curbs are cracked, waterproofing sealants have failed in some areas, and large cavities exist in the walkway closest to the bridge. Walker Parking told the city that it considers these repairs as "basic" and not preventive.

The city entered into an inspection-services agreement with Walker Parking and Carl Walker Inc., also of Kalamazoo, in 2005 for $600,000, with $300,000 going toward "other parking related services" and $300,000 set aside for "structural consultant services."

In August, the city added $600,000 to the contract for structural services and $100,000 to the other parking-related tasks. ActingCity Engineer Rick DeVries said the increases were necessary because the consultants were becoming involved with more projects than were on the table three years ago.

"They will go through and identify what needs to be done. As a project comes up, we may come back to you for additional dollars," DeVries told city commissioners.

"It sounds like a cash cow to me," said 1st Ward Commissioner James Jendrasiak.

Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong added that the additional dollars would cover services for future parking sites, possibly new DASH lots.

"It's all within the budget," he said. "A lot of it is pre-development work."

The money will come from Parking Services and the Wastewater Treatment fund.

The DDA also ratified up to $100,000 for repair work to the Area 7 parking lot, part of the DASH West system, located on

Mount Vernon Avenue NW
just north of
Pearl Street
. The DDA is likely to fund the project with $50,000, but may go higher depending on the project's final cost.

Materials Testing Consultants Inc. submitted an initial project estimate of $89,000. The work would fill a very large sink hole that has developed on the lot.

"They couldn't find the bottom of it," said DDA Executive Director Jay Fowler. "There is a void under the parking lot that is 75 feet underground. The sand is seeping into a cave."

City engineer Greg Krcmarik told the DDA that an underground water table washed away the gypsum below the lot. The solution is to drill six holes in the lot and pump grout through those openings until the void is filled.

"This is a natural occurrence," he said. "The good news is the grout is relatively cheap."

Parking Services, the Wastewater Treatment plant and the city are expected to join the DDA in picking up the repair bill. About 120 cubic yards of grout may be needed to fill the hole.

The DDA spent about $1.2 million earlier this year to acquire property on Winter Avenue NW just south of

Bridge Street
, and $800,000 to build a new lot on the site for the DASH West system. The lot, DASH 8, has 110 spaces and opened for business last month.

And board members could get an update report on discussions DDA staff has held since last spring with KG Development over the sale of the Area 4 lot south of Van Andel Arena on

Oakes Street SW.

KG Development, a joint venture between Gershenson Realty and Development of Farmington Hills and Kirko Development of Troy, offered the DDA $3 million in April for 87,000 square feet of the 122,000-square-foot lot with the intention of building a 12- to 14-screen movie house with retail space.

KG Development entered into exclusive negotiations with the DDA for the lot in April and that agreement ran its course last week. Fowler told the Business Journal last month that he hoped to file a report with board members at the October meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

KG Development also replied to an RFP from the city to purchase the Area 5 lot to the immediate east of Area 4. The firm revealed last month that it would like to build a small hotel, condominiums, retail space and parking in a nine-story building on the 69,000-square-foot lot. The firm has offered the city $1.5 million in cash and will pay for the construction of 295 public parking spaces in return for the lot.    

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