City officials hope to complete construction of a new parking lot along Front Street this fall.
“That’s our plan,” City Administrator Jim Briggs said this week.
The city will use money collected through the Downtown Washington TIF (tax increment financing) district to construct the new lot which will add about 75 parking spaces along the riverfront.
City council members voted Tuesday night to allocate funds from the TIF district for the parking lot project.
Under the TIF program, property taxes and half of the sales tax revenue generated in the district are dedicated for public improvements.
Briggs said there is roughly $300,000 in Downtown TIF funds available.
The parking lot is estimated to cost about $105,000, Briggs said.
Previously, the council approved a supplemental agreement with Union Pacific Railroad to lease property on the north side of Front, between Cedar and Olive streets, for the new lot. Briggs said the engineering department is preparing specifications to seek bids for portions of the work. City crews will handle some of the work.
The new agreement with the railroad increases the amount of property leased along that section of Front from about 36,000 square feet to approximately 83,000 square feet. It also would increase the annual rent the city pays from about $7,000 to about $12,000.
Last month, a number of downtown business and property owners urged the council to proceed with the project.
Tuesday night, the council also received a letter signed by a number of Front Street property owners thanking the city for approving the new lease agreement and pushing for constructing the lot as soon as possible.
“We respectfully request that construction of the lot commence as soon as possible. The improvement of the riverfront area is a major part of the city’s comprehensive plan. The city should not be content with completing this project ‘someday,’ ” the letter states.
“There is a lot of positive momentum happening in the riverfront area right now with the near completion of the Rhine River project, the remodeling and expansion of The Landing, the relocation of the Blue Duck Restaurant and continuing operation of other area businesses,” the letter to the council states.
The property owners note in the letter that people are already parking in the leased areas on weekends and there are safety concerns with the rough condition of the property and the fact that the rail spurs are still in place.
Union Pacific crews were starting to take up the rails along the old siding this week.
Briggs noted that the city is committed to building a 15-space parking lot for the Rhine River development on the north side of Front, across from the new Blue Duck Restaurant.
The lot is part of the TIF agreement between the city and the Rhine River developer.
City workers this week placed fine crushed rock on that section to provide parking for the restaurant that opens this week. It will be paved later and combined with the larger parking area to the east.
Under terms of the new lease agreement for the railroad property, the city will be responsible for removing a portion of the loading dock on the west side of the old freight depot and for cutting grass and weeds on the property.
The city will contract for asphalt paving, concrete work and installation of fencing between the lot and the railroad tracks. A new sidewalk will be built along the north side of Front for the length of the new parking lot, Briggs said.