$98,775 study will address parking shortage in downtown Fort Wayne, but Civic Center garage expansion won’t wait

The Civic Center Parking Garage will get two additional floors at a cost of about $7 million. (File photo by Kevin Leininger of News-Sentinel.com)
Nancy Townsend

A $98,775 study will seek solutions to a downtown parking shortage, but one project apparently won’t wait on its results.

That would be the addition of two floors to the south half of the city-owned Civic Center parking garage, which as The News-Sentinel reported last month is bursting at the seams thanks to the recent addition of 400 SIRVA employees in the adjacent Indiana Michigan Power Center. That has complicated daytime parking needs for the nearby Grand Wayne Center, and although about 200 spaces have been reclaimed for public use by shifting some tenants to other parking garages or lots, Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend said Monday a more permanent solution is needed.

Expansion of the Civic Center garage at a cost Townsend declined to reveal is part of the equation, but a more comprehensive approach will be determined by the study by American Structurepoint, which was approved by the city’s Redevelopment Commission Monday and will include $50,000 from revenues generated by the Civic Center and Harrison Square parking garages.

“We’re adding 900 housing units and 10,000 square feet of commercial space (downtown), and that’s created a serious parking issue, especially short-term, and we need direction,” Townsend told the commission. The study could project the demand for future parking, suggest the placement and size of additional facilities and address pricing, funding and management structure along with how best to move people from their cars to their destinations. It could also make recommendations on the use of residential parking permits in near-downtown neighborhoods.

“The pressure is on the Civic Center garage with the growth of employment, and the Grand Wayne Center and Embassy Theatre are vital to downtown,” Townsend said.

“We’re right on time with this study,” Commission member and former Mayor Win Moses agreed. We’re up against a wall now.”

The 1,077-space Skyline Garage at the Ash Brokerage headquarters is only a block or two away from the Grand Wayne Center and has excess capacity now, but that could change when the attached Skyline Tower residential project opens later this year. A 1,000-space facility that will be part of the recently announced $61.7 million “Riverview” mixed-use project is years and blocks away, and even though owners of the Fifth Third Metro Center at 202 W. Berry St. have talked about building a 400-space garage and a garage is expected to be included should Ruoff Home Mortgage build a new $37 million headquarters at Jefferson Boulevard and Ewing Street, neither project has been confirmed or would be close enough to provide enclosed access to the Grand Wayne or Embassy.

Jason Arp, a commission and City Council member who regularly questions publicly funded economic development projects, said he hopes the private sector will be involved in any future parking solutions.

“That would make everyone very happy,” responded Greg Leatherman, director of Community Development and Planning.

The study should be completed by this fall.