Can the garage be built only on CP property?
The proposed public garage would provide 348 spaces. The Council approved a four and a half-story structure that will be built on two properties. The Capitol Plaza owners are gifting the City with about a half-acre just behind their hotel and Christ Church, and the garage will also extend onto a piece of the Heney Trust parking, which the City leases at 60 State Street (beside Julio’s Restaurant).
Can the garage have flat floors to allow for future re-use?
The City’s architect and engineer researched this question extensively, and came to the conclusion that the garage could be designed for future use, but at significant additional expense. The structure would require added support, and ceilings would need to be higher to allow for office or residential use in the future (adding height to the garage, which is not popular with the public or the Council). That view was echoed by an independent contracting firm that is reviewing the financial and design work on the project. A member of that review team said that many cities want to build re-usable parking structures, but almost always reject that plan after learning of the expense and other complications.
What does the green wall consist of?
The Green Wall, which was initially added to soften the look on the side facing a contemplated affordable housing project, was designed by a landscaping firm. The plants include ivy and other climbers common to the area and hearty in New England winters. The plants will take about three years of regular care to take hold, but then typically climb freely and require little maintenance. The architect has since added the green wall to the other public-facing stretches of the garage. The Council is working with the architect to add other interesting components to the design, including possible public art, to break up the long green visual.
What is the maintenance cost of the green wall?
The cost of the wall is expected to be minimal. That said, the City has built a maintenance budget into the project to ensure the wall and the garage itself is a safe, clean and attractive building.
Can a roof be added for public use?
This was another question the architect carefully studied, looking at the cost of adding a roof now, or even ensuring a roof could be added in the future. He found the cost of adding a roof or adding additional support to the building to construct a roof in the future was significant. The Council chose not to add a roof. In a separate discussion, the Council voiced support for using the top floor of the garage for community events like fireworks viewing and outdoor movie nights.
How will this impact sight lines?
The City shares any concern about sight lines, and has worked with the architect to keep the impact minimal. There is already significant development in that area, and the garage will be lower in height than the hotel.
Can parking be reduced at 1 Taylor St?
In a way, the answer to that question is yes. The City needs to provide 5 parking spaces for the Transit Center and 30 parking spaces for the affordable housing at 1 Taylor Street. But, if the garage parking is available, the City will give up 6 additional spaces at the end of the 1 Taylor Street parking lot to green space – expanding the footprint of the proposed river-front Confluence Park. This is an exciting and unexpected benefit of the garage. In addition (and unrelated to Taylor Street parking), the City has added other areas of green space to the garage design.
Can Net Zero principles be included?
The Net Zero goal is important to the City Council. To this end, the architect has designed the garage to support solar panels on the roof that could provide enough energy to power the lights in the garage. In addition, the City is hoping to use District Heat to support warming panels on the top floor for snowmelt (reducing the need to clear snow after storms).