Demand for downtown parking wins OK for garage expansion despite extra $3.5M

A second round of bids has shaved $2 million from the cost of adding two floors to the city-owned Civic Center Parking Garage. (News-Sentinel file photo by Kevin Leininger)

About 225 badly needed downtown parking spaces could be under construction by next month — but at a much higher cost than originally anticipated.

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Capital Improvement Board, which in 2018 agreed to provide up to $7 million in food and beverages taxes to add two floors to the Civic Center Parking Garage adjacent to the Indiana Michigan Power Center, on Tuesday agreed to provide an additional $3.5 million because construction bids on the project exceeded estimates. The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission approved the project immediately following the CIB meeting.

“The building environment is super competitive,” city Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend said, noting that the strong economy has made it more difficult to land contractors and has made labor and materials more expensive.

Although Commission member and City Councilman Jason Arp suggested delaying the work in hopes prices would drop, the board decided the critical shortage of downtown parking made that approach a risk not worth taking. The Grand Wayne Center and the Embassy Theatre, among others, have felt the impact of inadequate parking, commission members said.

The Redevelopment Commission in February approved a $99,000 study American Structurepoint to assess future downtown parking needs and possible solutions.

The garage’s expansion could be complete by next March.