HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- The Clinton parking garage is about to undergo a transformation.
At Thursday's meeting, Huntsville's City Council voted to okay leasing 15 parking spaces to Clinton Row Partners, LLC. to create The Garage at Clinton Row.
It's part of a larger effort to increase retail downtown, said City Administrator John Hamilton.
"This really just contributes to creating a retail shopping district," he explained.
He outlined the plan before the council. It would convert the 15 parking spaces on the garage's first floor into 5 or 6 retail spaces 1000-2500 square feet each. He said this was for small businesses of several styles, from boutique retail to limited food and beverage establishments. The plan is to make sure it's multiple small tenants, not one large tenant coming in and leasing all the spaces at one time. The facade and sidewalk areas surrounding this would be improved, too, to create a new look.
"It sounds like it's going to be a nice little corner in Downtown Huntsville that's going to attract people downtown," commented council member Bill Kling.
Crunkleton: Commercial Real Estate Group released images of the plan on their company blog. The city council presentation included many of them.
Hamilton said none of the parking spaces converted into retail space would be handicapped designated parking.
The city will lease the space to Clinton Row Partners for $14,000 for the first 10 years, increasing that amount by 5% yearly after. Hamilton said this provides some cash flow for parking that the city declared "surplus" that same evening.
Jackie Reed, a frequent meeting-goer and mayoral candidate, commented that she's concerned about parking now these spaces will be gone.
"There's no place to park when you go in the courthouse," she said. "People tell me all the time, they use that for parking. It's the closest."
Hamilton pointed out these were only 15 spaces, out of the total 497 available in the garage. He added that city leaders have determined there are "200 empty spaces in this garage" on a daily basis.
Reed remained steadfast that removing parking is a bad idea.
Hamilton said the city gets more revenue from the lease than they would from keeping these spaces as parking, citing the maximum charge for a parking space is $56/month. He said even if all 15 of the spaces were occupied at that max rate all year, the parking revenue earned would still be more than $3,000 less than what they're going to receive through this new lease agreement.
Hamilton said the market would determine how much Clinton Row plans to charge to lease the spaces once they're ready.
Still, Mayor Tommy Battle recognized that parking could become an issue as businesses move in and the city grows. He said the city will continue to examine the situation, "to see if we're going to have to, at some time in the future, build another parking garage," he said.
The timeline Hamilton outlined is as follows:
- Project design completed: March 2016
- Construction begins: April 2016
- Construction complete: September 2016
- Tenant improvements: Oct/Nov 2016
- Grand opening: November 2016