City of Tyler moves forward with downtown parking garage

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 12:00pm

During their regularly held meeting on Wednesday, July 11, the Tyler City Council unanimously voted to authorize Walker Parking Consultants/Engineers, Inc. to proceed to the final design stage for a parking structure in downtown Tyler and for construction of the garage, which will be named the Fair Plaza Garage.

The Council has previously authorized Walker Parking to conduct preliminary design in January 2012. The project has reached the 50 percent design stage and will now proceed into final design.

“This project is long overdue and key to the revitalization of downtown,” said Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass. “We are now prepared to move forward with this important project.”

Butler Architectural Group and Ballard and Braughton Engineering are the local consulting firms that have teamed with Walker Parking to address architectural and civil components of the project. Of particular importance was the façade design.

“The garage will be an integral part of the entry point into downtown,” added Bass. “We are particularly pleased that the façade will be in keeping with the look, history and feel of our downtown.”

The resulting design incorporates architectural elements from the Blackstone Hotel, Tyler Commercial College, the clock tower from the historic Smith County Courthouse, and other former landmark buildings. Construction materials and methods will focus upon long-term durability and local involvement, while being cost conscious.

An automated gate system is planned that will allow a driver to obtain a ticket upon entering the garage. The ticket is paid at an electronic kiosk before returning to the vehicle and the “paid” ticket is inserted upon exit. Both monthly leased parking and daily/hourly parking will be made available.

The Council also considered construction delivery system options. The Council voted to proceed with a Construction Manager (CM) At-Risk system. This system, allowed by the local government code, will allow the City to establish a guaranteed maximum price early in the process and manage the risk with a contractor.

“The CM system has many benefits to the City,” said City Manager Mark McDaniel. “We should expect a higher quality product, a quicker build time, less risk for the City, and greater transparency of the costs involved in the project.”

Walker Parking and City staff will continue to value engineer the structure to reach a construction cost of $7 million or less. Funding for the project will come from half-cent sales tax, the utility fund, oil and gas fund and private donations.

This is the first project on the TIRZ No. 2 Project Plan to be presented for implementation and is a goal outlined in the Tyler 21 Downtown Master Plan section.

To ensure that Downtown Tyler can accommodate the growing parking needs of its citizens; Walker Parking Consultants has recommended building a multi-level parking structure with 427 spaces after conducting a parking study of the downtown area.

The downtown area is approximately 12 city blocks bordered by Locust Street to the north, Fannin Avenue to the east, Elm Street to the south and Bois D’Arc Avenue to the west. Findings from the study showed that available parking in downtown meets current demand; however as redevelopment efforts continue in Downtown Tyler, parking demands will quickly exceed the existing supply of parking given vacancy in some office buildings and growth in public events.

“With all of the exciting redevelopment projects recently completed and planned for downtown, like Liberty Hall, it is important to ensure that we are adequately planning for all aspects of this growth,” said Mayor Barbara Bass. “The proposed parking structure will provide parking to a variety of downtown patrons and will make sure there is ample parking to support future development in the downtown area.”

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