City scraps plan for new parking garage at Tacoma Dome

The City of Tacoma is re-thinking its plan to build a $9.4 million parking garage near the Tacoma Dome, according to a report released by City Hall last week.

In December, Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Washington State Department of Commerce granted authority to issue $9.4 million in recovery zone and small-issue private activity bonds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to construct the new garage. The city has until Nov. 10, 2013 to spend the bond money.

That plan has changed, according to Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson.

“Public Assembly Facilities has determined that there is not a need to add the structured parking at the Tacoma Dome,” explained Anderson in his weekly report to Tacoma City Council on June 23 ( ). “Initially, Public Works issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to select a design-build team to design, permit and construct the proposed parking structure at the Tacoma Dome. The City received 18 responses ( ) to the RFQ. Public Works will notify the submitters that the City is not proceeding with the project.”

According to Tacoma Public Works Director Richard McKinley, the city originally planned to increase the parking volume on the ‘G’ lot adjacent to Wiley Avenue. However, what the additional parking facility will look like still needed to be determined. “A modular parking structure was initially identified,” wrote McKinley in a May 11 memo to Anderson ( ). “This type of structure is demountable and can be relocated to other sites. It also can be constructed quickly and may be a cost effective solution for additional parking. However, in developing the performance specification for the modular parking system, challenges arose from the city’s seismic zone, which reduced the cost effectiveness of the system.”

McKinley added that Public Works staff was working on a plan “to best ensure that an innovative and creative solution is provided” and to “allow for modular parking structure types . . . as well as other reusable structures.” The design-build plan would have been split into two phases: a competitive Request for Qualifications that would have been evaluated by a city committee; and a Request for Proposal to the finalists selected by the committee. A contractor was expected to be selected in August.

Councilmember David Boe asked about the status of the project during City Council’s committee of the whole meeting on June 7 after he said he received phone calls from constituents. Councilmember Marty Campbell inquired as to whether the City would lose the $9.4 million ARRA funding if the parking garage isn’t built.

“The Finance Department has reviewed potential secondary uses with Bond Counsel and reports that the bonds must be used for qualifying tax exempt purposes/projects,” wrote Anderson in his June 23 report. “Uses of the bonds must be a capital expense and must be related to economic development. Potential revisions to the project would require an amendment to the project description, which would require approval by the State Department of Commerce. A potential use of the funds could be the Elks project. If this is possible, it would save us from having to issue additional funds.”

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Study continues for more parking at Tacoma Dome (05/17/11) —

$9.4M recovery bonds slated for new Tacoma Dome parking garage (12/06/10) —