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5/14/2014 Commission issues report on Garrahy garage proposal
 STATE HOUSE – A 1,250-space, seven-story parking garage at the Garrahy Judicial Complex in Providence would not only alleviate the parking crunch at the courthouse, but would also attract favorable development of the adjacent properties formerly occupied by Route 195, a legislative commission reported today.

Led by Co-chairmen Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) and Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), the Special Legislative Commission to Study Building Structured Parking at the Garrahy Judicial Complex presented its final report today and recommended the General Assembly use it as it weighs the state budget bill in the coming weeks. In the budget proposal he presented to legislators earlier this year, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee proposed borrowing up to $45 million for the construction of such a facility. Such a bond is estimated to have an annual cost of $3.45 million, assuming an interest rate of 5 percent over 20 years.

The conceptual design considered by the commission is estimated to cost about $43 million, and is expected to pay for itself through user fees and rent within a decade, according the report.  The proposal includes 13,800 square feet of street-level retail space along Clifford and Richmond streets as a means to comply with zoning requirements and enhance the area by attracting shoppers and increasing security on the street. There has also been discussion of including a bus hub either in the garage or elsewhere on the property.

In the report, the commission indicated that the proposal would address two issues at once: the lack of sufficient parking for the courthouse and surrounding area, and what potentially would be the same issue for projects developed on the former I-195 land, now called The LINK, located just east of the site.

“Right now, we’ve got a surface lot and a parking problem. But in the same space, we could have enough parking to meet the neighborhood’s needs not only now, but in the future, and it could help attract tenants to The LINK. This proposal is a more efficient use of the space and it better positions the city for the coming decades,” said Co-chairman Miller.

The report cites the fact that the site is within a five-minute walk of well over 1.25 million square feet of potential development capacity in The LINK, about a third of overall LINK capacity in the area west of the Providence River. The closest parcels are also among the most value, the report says, due to their adjacency to Brown and Johnson & Wales Universities and other facilities. At various times, a 24-hour garage could serve the courthouse, Downcity offices and other workplaces, nearby retail, the universities and the nearby entertainment venues, particularly Providence Performing Arts Center.

Using the Garrahy site, which currently fits 188 parking spaces in its surface lot, and making the facility available to those who build on LINK property would preserve more LINK land for development, and mean that those developments will not need use as much or any space for their own lots or garages. In that way, the garage will add value to the LINK parcels, which could result in more money for the state when the land is developed, the report suggests.

“A garage at the Garrahy Complex would do more than solve the parking crunch in that area of Downcity. It would make The Link much more attractive to the businesses that we want there – businesses that will hire Rhode Islanders. They will know that Providence has spaces for those employees to park, so they can use the available land for their buildings and start hiring,” said Co-chairman Blazejewski.

DESMAN Associates, which performed operational analysis for the report, recommends a public-private partnership for the project, meaning the operation of the facility, once it is built, would be handled by a private contractor with management expertise. Pay-on-foot and automated pay stations are recommended in the report to minimize staffing.

In addition to the co-chairmen, the commission included: Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), Sen. Dawson T. Hodgson (R-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett), Rep. Cale P. Keable (D-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester), Rep. Michael Chippendale (R-Dist. 40, Foster, Glocester, Coventry), Department of Administration Director Richard Licht, Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis, State Court Administrator J. Joseph Baxter, I-195 Redevelopment Commission Chairperson Colin Kane and Mark Ryan, designee for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.

The report is available online here

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923