CITY HALL — Downtown parking structures, some built in the 1960s, helping drive the economic engine in the popular retail and business district, are beginning to show their age.
A recent review of Parking Structures 1 through 10 shows there are 90 places where concrete could crumble and possibly fall on cars or pedestrians, creating a public safety hazard and raising City Hall’s exposure to lawsuits.
City officials conducted the extensive survey of the heavily-used structures after pieces of concrete in Parking Structure 3 broke off in October of last year and landed on the sidewalk and driveway, forcing City Hall to close it temporarily until a protective canopy was constructed and repairs made. While making the repairs, city officials found other cracks that posed an immediate threat and fixed them for a total cost of $13,785.78, according to a city staff report.
Now, City Hall is looking to spend roughly $65,000 to address the remaining 90 trouble spots.
“We really wanted to take a good look at the structures given that some are decades old,” said Lee Swain, City Hall’s director of public works. “There is no cause for alarm. There is no evidence of any structural issues. This is really about identify appropriate, long-term maintenance measures and to develop a program to address these issues in a preventative fashion.”
The structures are critical to the success of Downtown, said Bayside District Corp. CEO Kathleen Rawson. Bayside is a public-private management company that oversees Downtown including the Third Street Promenade.
“Without those structures, Downtown wouldn’t be what it is today,” Rawson said.
John Bohn, a member of the City Council when the parking structures were approved, said that he could not be more pleased with the performance of the structures.
“Without parking, the [Third Street] Promenade would not have been possible,” Bohn said. “The downtown area would not function as efficiently as it does today.”
Plans are already underway to knock down and rebuild Parking Structure 6, replacing it with a taller structure that can accommodate more vehicles. City Hall is involved in negotiations with AMC and Metropolitan Pacific Capital, who want to build a new, state-of-the-art movie theater and parking where Structure 3 stands. Structure 1 could also be rebuilt but city staff are waiting to see what the parking demand will be following rate changes and the construction of a new Parking Structure 6, said Miriam Mack, City Hall’s economic development manager.
Structure 3 is in the worst shape, according to the review. Of the 90 locations where failures may occur, 25 are in Parking Structure 3. The remaining locations are distributed between structures 1,2,4,5 and 6. Repair work is expected to begin later this month. The lowest bid received is for $65,550, Swain said.
In addition to the repairs, City Hall also plans to conduct an assessment of cracks in the slabs in Parking Structure 9 and will test the slabs and steel tension posts in structures 2,4 and 5 to evaluate future maintenance needs. A request for bids has been issued.