Study to evaluate parking deck, needs

A consultant will evaluate downtown parking needs, including the feasibility of constructing a deck on Lot B (behind East Cherry Street) and adding two levels to the Main Street deck. A preliminary report to the Parking Authority is expected by the end of the year.

Until the residential housing meltdown of the last several years, the parking deck at Lot B (photo, below left) was to be part of The Westbury by Dornoch, which is also constructing The Savoy. Original plans included a 324-space, five-story parking deck, 150 condos and 17,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

Instead, the Parking Authority and the city will take the lead on the Lot B garage. City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said the developer would be back-charged for each unit that would require a space in the deck. Changes also will require renegotiations to the redevelopment agreement with Dornoch, which could take several months, said Redevelopment Agency attorney Frank Regan.

Developers have spent about $5.5 million in recent years to assemble properties for The Westbury project, according to Regan. That total could surpass $7 million once they acquire the Greek-American Deli on Main Street and a Parking Authority parcel, he added, and so the project has simply become too cost prohibitive to put together at this point.

In an interview after last week’s Parking Authority meeting, Chairman Matt Dobrowolski said there’s already been discussion with the city administration about a possible third location for a parking deck. “We’re looking long-term, not just the Dornoch project,” he said. Adding two levels at the Main Street deck (photo, right) is more difficult with Carriage City Plaza now constructed, he said, but they have the ability to do it although it won’t solve the Lot B issue.

The Main Street deck took about a year to erect and Dobrowolski expects the same timeline with the Lot B deck. Opened in December 2004, the six-story, 524-space deck cost $11 million — $3 million of which is to be paid back to NJ Transit.