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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Garage Gets Going

By | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Fitting that on the day ground was broken on a new three-storied parking garage, that the beautiful weather would draw many residents downtown – and leave nowhere to park. The ceremonial groundbreaking event was held March 20, within the now fenced-off portion of the parking lot on Woodlawn Avenue. The nice weather only served to enhance the excited mood those gathered to kick off the project all seemed to have. Construction can now begin on the $4.7 million project that will replace two-thirds of the existing parking lot, with possible expansion to the remaining third being considered for the future. The entire Saratoga Springs City Council was in attendance, as well as representatives from BCI Construction, and other city organizations.

Mayor Scott Johnson was the first speaker of the afternoon, and noted that this was the first parking structure to be built in the city in over ten years. He then reiterated that the proposed facility is a parking garage, and not a parking deck as some had suggested.

“[There’s] a lot for the city to be excited about. I feel that when I’ve walked through the city and talked to people I haven’t had one person actually come to me and complain to me about building a parking garage,” said Johnson. “And that’s unique because I get a lot of complaints,” he quipped.

The mayor included that the new structure would effectively triple the current amount of parking available in that particular lot. The Woodlawn Avenue lot currently has a capacity of 147 spaces. The new structure will accommodate approximately 450 spaces. Johnson also noted that this was the first public and private partnership formed to address the parking needs of the city.

Following the mayor was Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce who joked that the weather was a “Chamber of Commerce kind of day.”

“When I envisioned this, I expected the tent to guard us from inclement weather, instead of protecting us from the sun,” said Shimkus.

Shimkus noted that the project was initially conceived on March 15, 2011. Just over one year later, construction is ready to begin. He credited Mayor Johnson as a major driving force behind the initiative before thanking members of the Downtown Business Association as well as the Industrial Development agency for their continued cooperation.

The city council has voted twice on the resolution, both times passing unanimously. Including the previous votes from former councilors Richard Wirth and Ken Ivins, Shimkus joked that there were “seven votes in favor on a board of five.”

As for the project’s completion, the city hopes that the majority of the work will be completed by the beginning of the 2012 season at Saratoga Race Course. July 31 is a deadline for “substantial completion” which would mean construction is still on-going, but the facility would be open for parking. The deadline for total completion is August 31. That’s a less than five month window to make sure the project is completed on time. The plan is to use what’s called a design-build process, which means the design and construction services are contracted by a single entity.

“That’s one of the reasons we chose a design-build process, to try and get things going as quick as we can and meet the aggressive schedule,” said City Engineer Tim Wales.

The project will also use precast concrete made by a company called Unistress out of Pittsfield, Mass. The already formed pieces will be shipped to Saratoga Springs in pieces. This method is much quicker than what’s called “cast and place” concrete, which goes section by section.

“It comes in piece-by-piece, kind of like an Erector Set, which lends itself to faster construction,” said Wales.

The structure itself will stand three stories tall, or about 38 feet from the ground. The peak from the partially enclosed elevator tower and stairwell will reach 61 feet. The exterior of the building will feature a brick façade with concrete accents. A decorative black steel fence will run along the exterior of the building on the lowest level.

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