North Barstow Street Parking Ramp
Posted: September 26, 2014
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Eau Claire City Council this week overwhelmingly approved a resolution to proceed with its engineering services contract with St. Paul,MN-based BWBR for the proposed $9.8 million, three-level downtown parking ramp. I was slightly shocked that council members also passed an amendment to the resolution that allows BWBR to present an option for a fourth level to the North Barstow ramp before bids are let out in January. I was always under the assumption that the city council was divided about the need for a downtown parking ramp.
Personally, I believe that the downtown parking ramp is the best option to alleviate the current and future needs of parking in the central business district, especially since RCU and JAMF Software will be the major users of the parking complex. However, I also realized at this week's council meeting that the need for a fourth floor on the ramp is entirely based on what happens with Block 7, which is presently being utilized as surface parking, and the "liner" building that will be developed adjacent to the parking ramp.
If the 24,000-square-foot "liner" building that will be constructed along North Barstow Street, east of the parking ramp, is occupied by commercial tenants that include professional offices and/or restaurants and retail establishments, then the need for a fourth level of the parking ramp may be warranted. The company that was hired by the city to prepare a detailed downtown parking study will present the council will its report in mid-November. That information will be critical, along with projected uses of the "liner" building and nearby public parking lot, for the council as it considers whether to build a larger parking ramp.
If Block 7, the public parking lot currently used by attendees of the Farmers' Market and other neighboring businesses, is turned primarily into residential properties, then there may not be a need for an expanded parking ramp since the developers will likely provide on-site parking in an underground setting - similar to what is currently provided with the condominiums near Phoenix Park. However, if Block 7 is developed for another business that wants to build a brand new commercial complex, then it would be prudent for the city to construct a fourth level to its parking ramp.
There is still a lot of information for the council to gather. But it looks like most council members are in agreement that a parking ramp is necessary. That is a statement that I wasn't so sure I could make two months ago.