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May 1, 2000 - Parking Garage "Catalyst" for Future Development

Parking Garage "Catalyst" for Future Development

(Monday, May 1/2000)-- Downtown Halifax has become "a victim of its own success" because the tremendous commercial/ residential growth in recent years has caused a public parking crisis, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Dan English said today.

As a result, HRM has to invest money in a parking facility to serve as the catalyst for future growth in the downtown area. There is broad, unprecedented support for increased parking capacity in the downtown core and until this demand is met- future growth may be impaired.

The Deputy CAO said that is why the municipality will finance the cost of a new $11.8 million parking garage in downtown Halifax and underwrite annual losses until the project is paid-off. However, annual losses will be more than offset by tax revenues from new development in the downtown area.

"Despite the strong demonstrated need for additional parking in the southend core, the private sector has failed to adequately respond to two separate Proposal Calls for development of the total site with a required parking garage and a mix of commercial and residential on the remaining lands," he said.

Mr. English said "There was a lot of interest on the residential/commercial side by the private sector, but not for the parking facility."

The former City of Halifax purchased lands bounded by Hollis, Salter, Granville and Sackville Streets a number of years ago as the site of a downtown parking facility.

In the meantime, the demand for increased public parking has increased because of other new development, which in some cases has lead to the erosion of available parking on lands owned by the Waterfront Development Corporation. Also, the existing TexPark garage will be demolished and the site redeveloped within the next few years.

Mr. English said "In the end, we decided that we would have to spend money to make money. Without the new parking facility, the downtown would become less attractive to potential developers. Council decided not to take that chance; and instead, voted to invest in downtown Halifax."

The proposed seven-storey parking facility would provide 670 parking spaces. HRM would design and build the facility and it would be operated by the private sector through a management agreement.

Based on a 10 per cent borrowing rate over a 20-year amortization period, staff estimates the operating loss to be $386,400 annually until the construction was paid-off.

The Deputy CAO said "Once the parking facility is built, we anticipate even greater demand for the remaining lands. These lands would be sold-off to the private sector and the resulting commercial/residential development could produce millions of dollars a year in new tax revenues.

'During the 20-year period that we will be paying off the parking facility, new tax revenues for other development on the site will more than offset the annual operating losses. Once the facility is paid for, revenues to HRM will be even greater," he said.

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Dan English
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer
(902) 490-4015

John O'Brien
Corporate Communications Officer
(902) 490-6531