City plans new parking garage for First Baptist block
The City of Columbia is moving ahead with plans for a new parking garage to serve the needs of the next tenant of the Palmetto Center. The thinking among downtown commercial real estate interests warns of a shortage of parking to satisfy the Palmetto Center, SCANA's headquarters building until the company moves to Cayce in a matter of months. For now, the existing parking comes up 300 spaces short just for the Palmetto Center.
Including the needs of the Palmetto Center, downtown Columbia was about 1,800 parking spaces short all told in a 2002 study, according to the city. Since then, Holder Properties put up its own garage to accompany the Meridian Building, which helped meet the downtown demand a bit.
But when the city moved into Washington Square, its garage at the corner of Assembly and Washington had to push out 200 monthly parking customers to make way for city employees.
The conversion of the Palmetto Building into the Sheraton Hotel was completed in the past year without building any new parking. The Barringer Building was converted into apartments, also without new parking, and the former Security Federal Building at 1233 Washington has never had dedicated parking.
Anything more than 300 spaces could avail itself for market demands. The Marriott Hotel's customers are expected to continue parking in the connecting garage along Sumter Street. At a minimum, a 400- space garage is called for just to put the Palmetto Center on a level playing field in the office lease game.
The city engaged the Columbia office of LS3P Associates Ltd., managed by Mary Beth Sims Branham, for a site selection study. LS3P is an architectural firm known in Columbia for its designs for the Beach Co.'s development of CanalSide, the former CCI property.
LS3P narrowed the possibilities for a parking garage site to three, all along Sumter Street: (1) the northwest corner of Blanding and Sumter, (2) the northwest corner of Taylor and Sumter, and (3) the northeast corner of Washington and Sumter. And LS3P's recommendation is No. 3, the northeast corner of Washington and Sumter, which among the three is the closest to the Palmetto Center.
The First Baptist Church people have 84 spaces on grade at the site, and they want to keep it that way. The city can build a 400- space garage and set aside 84 spaces for the First Baptist Church. Also, the church can keep most of the ground level for their activity purposes, while the city buys the air rights above, presumably coming out better than an outright land purchase.
Downtown Columbia 90- degree parking garage spaces are typically 18 feet long and 9 feet wide, and there's a 24- foot- wide two- way access aisle, rear bumper to rear bumper, between two rows of parking spaces. At 18 by 9, the parking space takes up 162 square feet, and add to that the access aisles and the entry and exit ramps and all the area necessary to do everything besides park, and every parking space really needs about 350 square feet.
An efficient parking garage is the Vista Garage between Lady and Washington on the west side of Assembly, originally developed by Ed Bagwell when he needed garaged spaces for his 1333 Main St. IBM Building. Bagwell got his garage designed and built at about 308 square feet per space.
The city's garage next to the former AT&T Building (aka Affinity, SouthTrust, now Capitol Place) comes in at about 440 square feet per parking space.
At the northeast corner of Taylor and Assembly, facing the post office, sits another city garage, and this one takes 511 square feet for every parking space.
Across Sumter Street from the site is a garage the city built when the Palmetto Center and the Marriott went up more than 25 years ago. There the average number of square feet per parking space runs a little more than 458 square feet, according to a parking study in the mid-'90s by a group of MBA students at USC.
A safe projection, then, is about 400 square feet per parking space, and 400 spaces need at least 160,000 square feet, just for parking. LS3P figures on a total of 174,024 square feet at a construction cost of about $55 per square foot, which is approaching $10 million for the garage,
To pay for the garage, the city has already set aside the funds from a 2005 parking revenue bond of $45 million that has been used to build city garages on Park Street and Lincoln Street.