Ferndale eyeing one or two new parking structures for city’s downtown

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 13, 2016

 Lot No. 11, a possible site for a parking deck, is located between the Ferndale Area District Library and City Hall on East Nine Mile Road.

Lot No. 11, a possible site for a parking deck, is located between the Ferndale Area District Library and City Hall on East Nine Mile Road.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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FERNDALE — The Ferndale City Council has been examining plans to add a mixed-use parking structure or two to its city landscape for quite some time, with hopes that construction could begin by the end of the year.

Ever since the the council abandoned plans to go forward with the 3-60 LLC parking structure last year, it assembled a parking committee to look at different lots in Ferndale to see where a city-led development could go and add 350 more parking spaces to the downtown

“That didn’t end up going anywhere, but this need for increased parking capacity downtown remains,” Mayor Dave Coulter said of the 3-60 project. “And so we are committed to building a parking deck downtown to help relieve the parking congestion problems.”

The difference between what this project might be and the old 3-60 project, Coulter said, was that the 3-60 project was simply too large for the city to take on.

“That would’ve been really three projects in one, and that was overwhelming,” he said. “The second major difference is that instead of a developer coming to us with their ideas and selling us on their project, the city is going to act as the project manager, and we’re going to create the visions for what we want and make that happen.”

The city currently is looking at two locations recommended by the parking committee, which is composed of downtown businesses, residents and city officials. They are Lot No. 6, located at the southeast corner of West Troy Avenue and Allen Road, and Lot No. 11, located between the Library and City Hall on East Nine Mile Road. Carl Walker Inc. was tasked by the city to examine the recommended sites.

A third space for a possible structure that would have connected lot No. 9, the Ferndale Area District Library lot, and No. 10, the Falvey Lot, with a bridge, was deemed too challenging by the city, both with engineering and financials, according to Assistant City Manager Joseph Gacioch.

Gacioch said the city hopes at least one of those sites will be developed, but it’s unknown if the city would develop a second site.

“The city is definitely committed to funding one deck, and depending on our bonding capacity, we would examine a second deck as well,” he said. “But, at this time, I cannot state we have the bonding capacity to support both decks within a five-year-period.

“At this point, building two decks, within, for example, a five-year-period, would look to be challenging. It would be challenging because, as a city government, we have limitations on our bonding capacity. So when you look at, kind of like your credit line, the city has maxed out on its credit line, and when you look at the current bonds that we have in the mix right now, we have debt service bonds for certain capital projects.

We have a $45 million streets and parks bond that was approved by voters last year. So when you add all of those bonds, right now we’re well within our capacity (for one structure).”

Gacioch said one structure could fall within the city’s credit line, but adding a second one on that would likely exceed the credit line, which means the city would not be able to go out for bonds for it and would have to pay cash for it.

“We’re exploring other options.” he said. “At this point, the city, we’re still working with our bond attorneys to determine our final bond rate.”

If the city is able to fund two parking decks, both Gacioch and Coulter wanted to make it clear to people that the decks would not be built at the same time.

“We definitely would never construct two decks at the same time,” Gacioch said. “That would be detrimental to the downtown.”

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