Expensive real estate - New parking spaces will cost city more than $17,000 a pop

Bonnie Belec
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Construction continues at 351 Water Street

The extra 461 public parking spaces the City of St. John’s will create in the downtown core will cost $8 million or $17,353 per parking spot.

Coun. Tom Hann said the city was limited in its options and chose the cheapest way to meet an immediate need for public parking.

St. John’s had consultants do a parking study a few years ago, which was amended and accepted Tuesday by council. It found the  downtown was deficient by 500 parking spaces.

“So, in 2010, council approved a recommendation to encourage the development of structured off-street parking and the way we did that was through joint ventures with private developers, a private-public partnership,” said Hann, who is council’s representative on the St. John’s Transportation Commission.

“The reason we went into private-public partnership (was) because if we had to construct a garage to deal with that, it would have been significantly higher. So it was a lot less cost to the taxpayer to do these deals.”

Hann didn’t recall exactly how much it would have cost for the city to build its own parking garage, but add to that maintenance, staffing and operating expenses, and it would have been considerably more than the partnership.

One of the partnerships is with Eastport Properties which is constructing an office tower and parking garage at 351 Water St. It will provide the city with 245 parking spaces.

The second project is on Duckworth Street, known as the Henry Bell development, and it will provide 216 spaces. Both are under construction and are expected to be completed in the next year or so.

“So the cost of us getting involved with that will be amortized over 20 or 25 years or whatever it takes, and the revenue from the parking meters and monthly parking rates will be put in a dedicated fund to pay off the debt,” said Hann.

When asked what he would say to taxpayers who might suggest it’s too much money to spend on parking, Hann said, “I would say it’s an investment.”

“The money will be borrowed and the revenue will be used to pay off the $8 million. It’s not going to cost the taxpayer money because we fully anticipate there will be enough revenue coming in every year to start paying down that debt and eventually it will be paid off.”

Also helping to offset the cost is a cash-in-lieu payment for developers who don’t provide enough parking for staff when they build a project.

“If you want to build a building downtown, based on a certain ratio, you have to provide parking for your employees. If you can’t, if you are deficient in spaces, you would have to give the city $18,000 for each space you are deficient, and that was based on research across the country,” Hann said.

“So that would go in a dedicated fund as well, which will help to pay down this debt and also to have money for future parking requirements or maybe for public transit into the downtown core. There are a number of ways the money would be spent in the future.”

All of the new developments in the core have met their parking requirements.

A certain number of the 461 new public parking spaces will have meters, Hann said, while others will be based on monthly rates. The city is not sure what that rate will be.

While the city regulates how much it costs for parking meters and public spaces, it has no control over rates charged by private parking companies such as Atlantic Place, Murray Premises or the former Fabulous 50’s parking lot, adjacent to the Murray Premises lot.

Rates charged by private companies range from $13 a day to $5 for three hours to $200 a month.

According to Downtown St. John’s website, there are more than 800 parking meters along Water Street, Duckworth Street, Harbour Drive and the connecting coves. In addition, there are 311 parking spaces in facilities owned by the city and approximately 2,100 privately owned parking spaces in the area bounded by Springdale Street, New Gower Street, Cavendish Square and Harbour Drive.


Organizations: Transportation Commission, Eastport Properties

Geographic location: Duckworth Street, Water Street, Springdale Street New Gower Street

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Recent comments

  • Villa in chennai
    September 28, 2013 - 03:47

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  • California Pete from NFLD
    April 29, 2013 - 12:03

    Now the tourists don't need to come to St Johns just go downtown LA and it looks the same and while there you can pay $12 an hour for parking. It makes for an expensive shopping trip. Have a good time and enjoy your stay

  • rghefferton
    April 28, 2013 - 00:51

    Wow, how cheap ! Do you realize that now that you are a " have Province " you are subjected to the new reality of what that means ? Over my many years of travelling to many places in the world for business, your costs are immaterial c pared to other " oil related economies " around the World ! For example Amsterdam the cost is over $250,000 Can dollars, Texas @ over $200,000 U.S. , and in the Orient and Saudi and the middle East, you do not want to know the numbers ! Enjoy your new found petro $$$dollars !! The best is yet to come !!!

  • brad
    April 27, 2013 - 21:06

    makes too much sense GORDON GEKKO it will never happen

  • Seriously
    April 27, 2013 - 14:25

    Do you people do anything but whine? What else is the city supposed to do to address the parking problems and thus enable the commerce that happens in the downtown core?

    • DowntownGal
      April 28, 2013 - 11:22

      I could not agree with you more. The same people would probably complain about the lack of parking downtown. This is NEEDED down here whether you like it or not. With Mile One and now the planned expansion of the Convention Center, it's impossible to find parking downtown on most nights. It's a convenient locaiton as well, right next to the highway. could the Municipal government spend the money on somehting "better"? Perhaps. But I wouldn't call more parking spaces downtown a total waste of money.

  • Virginia Waters
    April 27, 2013 - 13:29

    It seems the Dunderdale government's penchant for making secret deals has rubbed off on City Hall. It used to be that getting the best bang for the taxpayer's buck meant an open call for proposals, public tendering and the like in which transparency and accountability were front and centre. It was one means of preventing the kind of skullduggery we have seen so often in the past. But our city fathers believe that, once elected, they have the divine right to govern however they see fit. Nor is the growing disdain for public scrutiny limited to government itself . It is especially rampant among the creatures of government whose very existence in many cases is designed to circumvent public oversight. When politicians are worried that their decisions, their deals or their spending will put them in the public spotlight, they use crown agencies like NALCOR to cloak their activities. When the Harbour Authority saw an opportunity to put up yet more restaurants on the St. John's waterfront, it didn't invite proposals from the local business community. No, it simply negotiated a secret deal in secrecy with people they knew quite well. When that same agency wanted our tax dollars for an ugly new fence, our mayor and councillors were happy to oblige – again making sure that the deal was done before the public even knew it was on the table. Unfortunately this standard of behaviour among governments and their offspring at all levels is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception. Unchecked it will lead inevitably to yet more corruption of the type we have seen so often in this province and as is now emerging from the public inquiry into government dealings with the construction industry in Quebec. We reap what we sow.

  • tom
    April 27, 2013 - 12:27

    if it is going to pay for itself & be profitable - why didn't the city build their own and make the cash long term???

    • DowntownGal
      April 28, 2013 - 11:25

      I'm not an expert in Municipal governemnt affairs, Tom. But I'm pretty certain it's not uncommon for the City to partner with private businesses on construction projects such as this. Especially when there is commercial office and retail space involved. In my opinion, the City probably saw the need for parking and partnered with the private sector (to save tax dollars) to address that problem.

  • Gordon Gekko
    April 27, 2013 - 11:58

    While I'm not necessarily siding with the downtown anti-development crowd who won't be happy unless the city looks like some 19th century village, I really don't understand this obsession with putting high density office towers, hotels, and convention centers downtown. It just doesn't seem practical. Terrible infrastructure, no parking, and protesting hippies. Why cant these developments go up somewhere off Kenmount Road or Topsail Road? This is not Toronto, it's not like these areas are hours away from the city core, this is still a small town, and developing these areas would be easier in every way. Mile One and the the convention center is one perfect example, that should never have been put where it is, it should have been built around what is now Kelsey Drive or some other similar area. Same goes for any office towers, hotels, etc. Building them downtown is simply not worth the hassle.

  • david
    April 27, 2013 - 11:54

    Let's see...they each cost $17,000. Within 5 years, they'll each have $60,000 worth of outstanding, unpaid tickets associated them. That's a very good ROI....we're be building equity, folks! The elegance of that math is blatantly "governmental".

  • Downtown Gal
    April 27, 2013 - 11:11

    It may sound expensive, but that parking garage will pay for itself in no time. At $13 / day with 460 parking spaces that's $5980 / day, $29,990 / week (not even including weekends), $119,600 / month, with a grand total of $1,435,200 / year. I park in the Atlantic Place garage and it is filled every day. They make it sound expensive in this article, but even with maintenance and operational expenses it will be a cash cow for the city, and will pay for itself in a few years.

    • Robb
      April 27, 2013 - 20:52

      Well done Downtown Gal.....finally someone with a grain of sense posts something meaningful....I mean Virginia Waters post above even tried to implicate the Dunderdale gov't.......just plain stupid....so when you look at the numbers properly, and without some stupid agenda, the numbers seem to make sense. Well done city of st. john's, and never mind the simple minds who complain just for the sake of complaining. And don't even try to defend, because then I will not only think what you are...

    • TimHo
      April 28, 2013 - 13:40

      Good Math for the "Private" in "Public Private Partnership" as I read the article the city gave control of the land to the EastPort & Henry Bell with blessing to build and operate parking garage with revenue retained by the private entities. Your figures of 1.4mil / annually would require less than 8 of the 20-25 year lifespan alleged. Being a 'cash cow' is good for them, perhaps not so much for the public. I found the following comment entertaining - apparently taxpayers are not expected to use the facility: It’s not going to cost the taxpayer money because we fully anticipate there will be enough revenue coming in every year to start paying down that debt and eventually it will be paid off.”

  • My two cents
    April 27, 2013 - 08:16

    Something smells fishy on the waterfront these days. I wonder if we have any investors at City Hall?

  • John Smith
    April 27, 2013 - 07:56

    Man...that is one ugly building....I'm all for development but always thought the citiy's involvement in this...to the tune of ten million dollars was over the top.