Redevelopment Agency considers parking options for future amphitheater

The planned amphitheater on Hamilton Street is expected to break ground this fall and be completed in about a year. When the amphitheater and adjacent black box theater opens, where will patrons of the facilities park? City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier raised the issue to the Redevelopment Agency during its monthly meeting last week, initiating a discussion among commissioners about future parking options.

Among those discussed as possibilities were:
* Constructing a five- to six-story parking deck near the corner of West Main Street and Elizabeth Avenue;
* Building a deck at the property currently occupied by Cambridge Courts apartments (above) on West Main Street; and,
* Razing the four homes on Hamilton Street between the Bell Building and the amphitheater site for surface parking or a future parking facility.

Pelissier estimated the third option could provide 50 to 80 surface parking spaces and the agency also could pursue a future parking facility for the site. Construction of a parking deck is expensive (~$20,000/space) and buying the homes might be less expensive but just a matter of dealing with multiple property owners, he added.

One suggestion raised last week that was quickly shot down was pursuing a lease with St. Mark’s Church across the street from the amphitheater site. Redevelopment Agency Commissioner Timothy Nash, who sits on the St. Mark’s Church finance committee, told the agency in no uncertain terms that the church property on Hamilton Street is not for sale and will not be decided for at least 18 months. St. Mark’s — not the archdiocese — owns the church property. (St. Mark’s is slated to merge with St. Mary’s Church on Central Avenue, as per directions from the Archdiocese of Newark.)