Would a parking garage be feasible for the city?
That’s the question we asked after many business owners and News-Tribune Facebook friends demanded a solution to Oberlin’s downtown parking troubles.
The idea, which has long been floated by residents, was raised again this month after city planning commission members proposed a study to solve problems voiced by shoppers and shopkeepers alike.
Planning and development director Carrie Handy said she could not find any evidence on file suggesting the city has researched the cost of building a parking structure in town.
“We have never looked at it since I’ve been here,” she said. “I don’t think we have ever done a real parking study.”
If a parking garage is built in town, it will not be cheap.
On Handy’s recommendation, we sought data from Carl Walker — a company that specializes in parking structure designs, structural engineering, parking studies, and restoration of parking structures — to get up-to-date numbers on what a garage could cost.
According to numbers for 2014, the median parking structure construction cost for Cleveland was $17,930 per parking spot and $53.72 per square foot.
It is unclear how many spaces are needed in downtown Oberlin. But assuming a 100 parking space garage, the cost would be roughly $1.8 million just in spaces. That figure does not include contractor or architectural fees.
We also reached out to Aaron Appell of Bramhall Engineering, who we know through coverage by our sister newspaper in Amherst. He directed us to RSMeans, a North American supplier of construction cost information.
That firm estimated the cost for construction of a city garage in Cleveland with union labor at $48.27 per square foot in 2013.
A five-story, 145,000-square-foot garage with union labor would cost just a few dollars shy of $7 million but when contractor and architectural fees are added to the bill it jumps to roughly $9.3 million, RSMeans said. If the work is done by non-union workers, it would cost a $8.7 million.
Based on Carl Walker’s numbers, a 145,000-square-foot garage would cost approximately $7.9 million without the architect and contractor fees. Appell said in an email that size of a structure would take up nearly 3.5 acres and would be a massive parking garage with 390 spaces per floor, which is roughly 1,950 parking spots.
Keep in mind that the last example outlines a building that would rise 10 stories tall — so it would likely be larger than what would fit in Oberlin.
By comparison, the parking garage located in downtown Elyria on 3rd Street has four floors with 445 parking spaces.
Carl Walker’s report stated the national median per space in 2013 increased 2.9 percent by 2014, and it’s safe to believe it’s risen again since.
Responding to our Jan. 14 story on parking downtown, several residents and business owners told us they want a structure to be built by the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center, the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts, or in the off-street parking lot by Oberlin College’s Conservatory of Music.
Handy said when a parking garage is built there is always the option to add another floor to the top if additional parking is needed in the future.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Parking is chronically crowded in Oberlin’s downtown area leaving many asking about the possibility of building a parking garage. We went looking for answers.