Details of a large paid parking deck proposed for a city-owned lot on High Rock Avenue are slated to be presented to the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority’s board of directors Wednesday morning.
Authority President Mark Baker said the design envisioned for the structure with 500-plus parking spots will be presented to board members during their 8 a.m. meeting at the City Center.
Though the project has been discussed for months now, the authority has disclosed little about its design or how the structure will piece together with the surrounding area, which includes a blend of high-rise buildings, businesses, two-story residences and green space.
“We tried to minimize the overall structure’s footprint on the site,” Baker said Tuesday. “This [design] will show a very nice model of that.”
The authority had five companies seek to design and build the structure, but has since narrowed the choices down to one that will be discussed with its board. The proposed structure will have four or five levels and include an enclosed walkway that will connect with the City Center.
At an estimated cost between $6 million and $9 million, the structure would replace the existing lot with 188 spots and be leased by the city to the authority. Though plans don’t include any storefront space at street level, Baker said the design should incorporate well into the aesthetics of the surrounding area.
“It’s not just a garage,” he said. “It’s a structure that will mirror the surrounding buildings.”
Plans for the structure are expected to be presented to the City Council on Tuesday. If a lease agreement can be hashed out with the city, Baker said ideally construction could start by midautumn.
Baker said the spaces will all be paid parking, so that the City Center Authority can build and maintain the structure without taxpayer money. Though the rates haven’t been determined, he said they will most likely include one hour free and a second at a nominal cost.
The parking deck, however, has spurred concerns from some residents and business owners. Some believe the design of the proposed structure has been rushed and that it won’t utilize a property that is the size of a city block in a manner fitting the character of Saratoga Springs.
“Whatever they put up is going to be there for the next 50 years,” said Diane Pedinotti, co-owner of the Mouzon House, a restaurant located about 75 feet away from where the parking deck would be built. “And the city is going to have to deal with that.”
Pedinotti’s concerns are twofold in that she fears the structure will literally overshadow her business and will also eat up one of the last large pieces of vacant land downtown. Lacking any retail component, she’s concerned the parking structure will guide business traffic away from the High Rock Avenue corridor.
“They go to park, they go to where they’re going, they come back and then they leave again,” she said.
Pedinotti said some of the alternatives for the lot are much more palatable than the design now being explored by the authority. She said other suggestions handed to the authority by the other companies included so-called liner stores on the ground level, green space and connector trails running between High Rock Park and the city.
“I’m not anti-parking,” she said. “I’d just like to see it done the right way.”