Construction could begin in summer on downtown Tyler parking garage

TYLER (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - Tyler residents could see construction begin on a proposed downtown parking garage as early as this summer if the city council gives its approval in March.

City Engineer Carter Delleney updated Half-Cent Sales Tax board members at their meeting Tuesday about the proposed $7 million four-story garage, which is partially being financed with Half-Cent sales tax funds.

"On Feb. 27, the construction manager (of Dallas-based Manhattan Construction) will tell the city the guaranteed maximum price," Delleney said. The city council could give its approval for the building of the garage at the second council meeting in March, he said.

Manhattan Construction would be involved with the design of the garage before the design is complete, Delleney said. The company also said that 55 percent of the construction work would be performed by workers at Smith County companies, Delleney said.

"They become a fiscal agent of the city and give us a guaranteed maximum price," Delleney told board members about the company. He added that Manhattan Construction will assume some risk in the parking garage project.

The city is paying the construction company $452,515, plus related management fees for its design services, records show. Delleney told board members the city had received calls asking for something to be done about the parking situation downtown.

Walker Parking Consultants/Engineers initiated a study almost two years ago that found there are 1,406 parking spaces downtown, but only 360 were classified as public. Consultants said the multi-story structure would add 427 new parking spaces, officials said.

Preliminary designs call for access off College Avenue and an automated gate system instead of a person. Exterior design is expected to feature buildings that used to be downtown: the Blackstone Hotel, Tyler Commercial College and the old Smith County Courthouse. Delleney said plans are in the works for the clock that once hung at the 1909 Smith County courthouse to be placed on the parking garage. The clock will have updated mechanical workings, he said.

Many of the city's capital improvement projects are funded through the half-cent sales tax program that was approved by voters in 1995 as a way to fund capital infrastructure projects that enhance the community and attract economic development opportunities, Assistant City Manager Susan Guthrie has said.

The goal of the half-cent sales tax is to lower the tax rate, attract businesses and build infrastructure, including parks.

In November 1995, voters elected to adopt the One-Half Cent Sales and Use Tax within the city of Tyler for public improvements to include public safety, streets, traffic control, airport, water utilities, parks and drainage for the promotion and development of new and expanded business enterprise as allowed in Texas law, according to the city's website.

The engineering department currently manages $13 million in capital projects each year. The Half Cent Sales and Use Tax generates between $11 million and $12 million each year, City Engineer Carter Delleney said in January. The costs for most of these capital projects are projected into the next 10 years.


Delleney also announced an annual open call for the next 30 days for potential city half-cent sales tax projects.

"We expect to get input from citizens and from staff about how that money should be spent," he said.

The city has scheduled two open house events for residents to give input on possible projects. The first is scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Rose Garden Center in the Bluebonnet room. The second open house is scheduled from 6 to 7 p.m. March 19 in the Rose room at the Rose Garden Center, he said.

"The open houses are come and go, and the call for projects will end on March 31," he said.

Delleney said city leaders would then rank the suggested projects in the order they meet the goals and criteria of Tyler 1st. The Tyler 1st Comprehensive Plan, formerly known as Tyler 21, was launched in 2007. The plan addresses issues such as downtown revitalization, historic preservation, parks and recreation, transportation and housing and neighborhoods.

The comprehensive plan is reviewed every five years and updated every 20 years.

On June 11, Delleney said he will present the listed projects to the Half-Cent Sales Tax Corporation and July 9, the board will vote to make recommendations to the council.


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