SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City Council will vote Tuesday night on the City Center Authority’s plan to build a once-controversial parking garage on city-owned lands, and a lease between the authority and the city that will allow it to happen.
The lease for a 2.6-acre site between Maple and High Rock avenues will allow the City Center to build a four-story, 600-space garage on land across Maple Avenue from the City Center, with the possibility of a groundbreaking later this year. The lease will be for a dollar per year, with the city guaranteed 60 spaces in the structure for city use and a share of revenue from any parking charges.
A public hearing on the proposed lease will be held at 6:50 p.m. before the council meeting at the city Recreation Center. The last public hearing two weeks ago drew only supporters of the plan — which downtown business leaders see as helping address a widely acknowledged shortage of downtown parking, especially during the summer.
The $12 million garage will be built at the northern end of what is now a 188-space, city-owned surface parking lot, built on the hillside between High Rock Avenue and Maple Avenue. A see-through elevated walkway over Maple Avenue will link the upper level of the parking garage and the City Center.
City Center officials say the center needs more parking to accommodate convention-goers who are its main source of revenue. But the original 2014 plan for what critics called a “massive” five-story garage for 750 cars ran into controversy because of its size and what some saw as its lack of aesthetic appeal.
The idea of a parking garage on the site has been discussed for nearly 30 years, Mayor Meg Kelly noted at the counci’s agenda meeting on Monday. “Tomorrow evening we hope to reach a major milestone of this project,” Kelly said.
The current plan is an outgrowth of the findings of a committee of residents, business interests and advocacy groups Kelly named in 2018 to resolve the deadlock between supporters and opponents. The parking garage is the first phase of a plan that will include green space, a small park and room for potential commercial development on other parts of the site. The lease with the City Center is to run through 2032.
The City Center Authority, which will be financing the project, has retained construction firm Bette & Cring of Latham as designer/builder. The LA Group is doing the design.