New parking deck opens

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 30, 2015


ROCHESTER — City officials opened the first of two parking platforms in downtown Rochester on June 25, a date that City Manager Jaymes Vettraino said will forever be an “incredibly important” day for the community.

The opening of the east parking deck — a two-level platform at University and Fourth, behind the Main Street Plaza — marks the first raised parking area in the city’s history, Vettraino said during the ribbon cutting ceremony. The east platform, along with added spaces in the adjacent alley, added approximately 260 spaces downtown.

“At the time when we open the deck, we will have more parking available in our city than anytime in its history,” Vettraino explained during the ceremony. “And come November, we get to add another 300 to our parking system.”

Mayor Jeffrey Cuthbertson said the opening of the east deck was “a great day” for Rochester and its residents and businesses.

“It is a day that has been a long time in the making. It has come through careful study and planning over the last three years — in fact, in a process that has involved many voices and experts,” he explained.

The city kicked off construction on the east parking deck in January, and crews recently wrapped up work, just 24 weeks and three days since the groundbreaking.

“To those of you counting, that is 171 days — and a truly amazing accomplishment,” Cuthbertson said.

In addition to being constructed on time, the east parking deck came in under budget.

“The projected final cost will be about $4.34 million, which is under the guaranteed maximum price budget by about 15 percent, which is tremendous. That yields a cost of roughly $16,700 per space,” Cuthbertson added.

Officials hope to open the three-level west parking deck — at University and Fourth, on the west side of Main, behind Mr. B’s — by November. Combined, the platforms will add a total of over 550 parking spaces in high-demand areas in downtown Rochester. Vettraino said security cameras will be put in the decks sometime in the next few months.

Anyone who chooses to park in the east parking platform can do so for free until early July, when the city will begin charging for parking. Parking in the new platforms will be free for the first two hours, with a $1-an-hour charge after — payable by cash or credit card at automated control points at entrances and exits.

Rochester Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Kristi Trevarrow said the parking platforms are a huge project for the downtown.

“This is the biggest investment for downtown because it’s really investing in our future,” she said. “We’ve had studies done over the years — the city has and the DDA has — about parking, but it wasn’t until the survey that we had about 18 months ago that returned and said, ‘Your parking is OK for now, but the next big development that comes in, you may have a parking problem.’”

Trevarrow said the city wanted to be proactive and address parking challenges now, before they became an issue.

“This is huge for us because a lot of people said, ‘Well, I’ve never had a problem finding a place to park.’ Well, maybe not today, but maybe six months from now, or maybe a year from now. You don’t want to wait for those developments to come in and then have to react. You want to be planning ahead and showing that you are thinking for the future.”

She said the east platform fits nicely into the environment and into downtown.

“It’s a nice complement to downtown,” she said.

The city borrowed up to $12 million to pay all the cost of constructing the two new parking platforms and necessary site improvements, as well as the cost of acquiring and installing various parking system improvements within the city. The bonds have a maximum duration of 20 years. The principal and interest of the bonds will be paid back with money from the general fund, while debt service on the bonds will be paid for using funds from the parking system and special assessments, along with funds made available to the Rochester Downtown Development Authority and from the city’s budget.

Vettraino said any bond debt money left over after the project is complete can be used for anything related to the parking system.

“We can hold it in the bank for future parking needs. We can hold it and use it for bond payments on the debt that we took. We can use it for the parking meters if we need to replace that. The condition on the funds raised is that it has to be invested in the parking system, because that is what we told the bond holders,” he said.

Now that the east platform is complete, Vettraino said he is staying focused on the second platform.

“June 25 is a really important date in our history, but — as the city manager — I am kind of keeping one eye on the celebration and one eye … on the other parking platform to keep focused,” he said.