The City of Scottsdale could soon begin considering expansion of two city-owned garages to alleviate parking issues downtown.
On June 11, the City Council will consider approving a study that would look at adding additional levels to the city’s garages on the northwest corner of 2nd Street and Brown Avenue and just west of Scottsdale Road between 3rd and 5th Avenues.
The study would cost $81,100 and be paid with money from the in-lieu parking fee program, which dates back to the 1980s and allows owners of qualified downtown properties that do not meet city parking requirements to pay a fee instead. That fund had a balance of $311,341.22 as of Feb. 28.
“We are putting (those funds) back into expanding the parking inventory downtown and that is intended use of the fees,” said Scottsdale Public Works Executive Director Dan Worth.
Worth said the city expects to build additional parking with funds from the bond package that will go before voters in November or the sale of city-owned land to the MacDonald Development Corp. for the Museum Square project.
In 2018, MacDonald agreed to pay the city around $28 million for land adjacent to Museum of the West. That sale is contingent upon the city’s approval of a rezoning request and a development agreement.
“We have potential funding and needs identified, so we are trying to find locations that make most sense from a financial standpoint and from an operations standpoint,” Worth said.
Worth said initial assessments suggests the projects are feasible.
The study will also provide the city with cost estimates for expansion.
Worth said adding a single floor to an existing parking garage will likely cost $3 million to $4 million.
Referring to the feasibility study, he said, “This is (a) small down payment but a necessary step.”
The need for more parking downtown has long been the subject of debate in Scottsdale dating back to at least 2015 when a parking study commissioned by the city found the area had enough overall to meet demand but concluded some parking was not located near major attractions.
The debate over parking has only intensified in recent years as the Museum Square project next to Scottsdale’s Museum of the West has taken shape.
The project — which will include apartments, condos, a hotel and restaurant —has drawn the ire of nearby gallery owners who believe it will further cannibalize what they see as an already over-taxed public parking supply in the area.
The study does not address those concerns — at least according to one gallery owner.
“It’s useless to us,” said Bob Pejman, owner of Pejman Gallery.
Pejman said he would prefer to see the city invest in building a parking garage on a city-owned lot at 1st Avenue between Marshall Way and Scottsdale Road. That is closer to the Arts District than the garages involved in the study — especially if Museum Square land sale proceeds are used to fund construction.
Legacy Gallery owner Jinger Richardson first brought up the idea to build a garage at that location, and Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp asked city staff to look into the feasibility of adding two levels of above-ground parking at that location.
Worth said the proposed study is not a response to specific complaints from the gallery owners, but rather a response to an overall need for parking downtown. Worth said the two existing garage sites were selected to study because they appear to make the most sense for the city.
“These two are existing garages and provide the best opportunity from a cost efficiency and operational standpoint,” Worth said.
Worth said it is cheaper to add levels to existing garages versus building new garages on top of existing surface lot parking.