Downtown parking garage proposed

The city’s first downtown parking garage will banish the time-honored practice of circling the block looking for a space downtown and hopefully attract more shoppers and businesses, city and business leaders said.

City officials announced plans this week for a 200-300 parking space structure on Miller Avenue between Linden and Maples avenues, with an estimated cost between $7 million and 9 million.

The city has 356 spaces, 238 of which are specifically for city parking permit holders, in the Downtown Parking District, which extends from Airport Boulevard west to Spruce Avenue.

Councilman Mark Addiego said the garage would be built on the site of two city-owned lots on Miller and a privately owned duplex on the corner the city recently bought.

A subcommittee focusing on downtown that began meeting in February identified parking as “the most pertinent issue,” Councilman Joe Fernekes said. The structure has not been designed yet, but city officials have discussed including retail on the first floor and perhaps housing units on an upper level.

The project comes after decades of talking about bringing a public garage to downtown South San Francisco and would be a salvation to the parking woes drivers feel, Addiego said.

It would be the only public parking garage in the downtown area, said Susy Kalkin, the acting chief planner for the city.

“[The garage] is needed, and it’s going to be a great asset,” Fernekes said.

Rita Hernandez has owned Mercado y Panaderia Hernandez with her husband for 25 years, the last 17 of which have been in downtown South San Francisco.

If people have many choices about where to shop, they generally won’t come to an area where they can’t find parking, Hernandez said, and that has held back an area that is otherwise “exploding.”

Now, the move toward additional parking sends a signal to business owners that downtown is a good place to invest, she said.

“We can really expand. [The city] can bring in the businesses they want, and people can really put money into their business because there’s parking,” Hernandez said.

Addiego said the city has found the political will for the project and identified some funding sources, including potential funds from the Downtown Parking District and Redevelopment Agency.

“We need to do something dramatic if we’re going to bring Grand Avenue downtown to the next level,” Addiego said.

The City Council will vote Wednesday on whether to authorize staff to move forward with planning for the garage.

dsmith@examiner.com

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