To address the current and future demand for more downtown parking, Bexar County commissioners Tuesday requested a feasibility study for a 539-space parking garage at 126 E. Nueva St.
The potential six-story garage would replace the surface parking lot behind the former Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas building, which is now known as the Presidio Gallery and houses Texas A&M-San Antonio‘s archives and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library.
Officials anticipate that the entire construction project would cost around $11.2 million, but more exact cost estimates will be revealed once the feasibility study is completed in the next month or so, County Facilities Management Department Director Dan Curry told commissioners.
Over the past three months, more than 360 downtown surface parking spaces have been lost to new development projects, Curry said. All of those spaces are located within two blocks of the Bexar County Courthouse and Justice Center complex, he added, “so they have an immediate impact on the way the County operates.”
Other projects in the area will only further minimize downtown parking. The new Federal Courthouse, which will be built at the former San Antonio Police Department Headquarters just west of the County’s garage on the corner of South Flores and West Nueva streets, has no onsite public parking planned.
A new mixed-use development on the 300 block of Dwyer Avenue – formerly known as Heritage Plaza – and a 340-unit apartment building on the 300 block of South Flores Street– the Encore Riverwalk – also only have parking spots available for tenants, Curry said. Additionally, the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project, which the County is mainly funding, will bring more visitors and traffic to an already congested area of town.
The proposed East Nueva Street garage would not only mitigate the parking shortage, Curry said, it could also be a revenue generator for the County.
County employees who currently park in the South Flores Street garage will be moved to the new garage, freeing up more than 400 additional spaces in the South Flores location for day use parking by patrons visiting the courthouse or downtown. The County charges about $5 a day for those spaces.
The feasibility study will show officials how much revenue those 400-plus spaces could generate for the County. Curry said preliminary estimates show the spaces bringing about $470,000 a year to the County.
Planners also foresee redeveloping the first floor of the South Flores garage – about 25,000 sq. ft. – for office, commercial, or retail use in the future. The County could also choose to occupy some of that space for office use, Curry said.
The need for parking will only increase as development downtown continues. It would be cheaper to build the new garage now than five years from now when the market is saturated with that particular need, Curry said.
Instead of granting the original call to release a request for qualifications for the new parking garage design and approving its appropriate budgetary amendment – an estimated $1 million – Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and commissioners asked Curry to complete the feasibility study to better gauge the project’s cost effectiveness.
“Obviously we’d like to see this thing pay for itself,” said Commissioner Kevin Wolff (Pct. 3), but that may not be the case.
Curry will deliver the results of the feasibility study to County commissioners in the next 1-2 months.