City may take over parking authority

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Richmond may have to take on the 67-million dollar debt for a troubled parking authority. The group oversees five downtown parking areas that are not raking in the money originally anticipated.

Three downtown garages and two paved lots all in the heart of downtown Richmond are not as busy as expected.

The Broad Street Community Development Authority borrowed $67-million for improvements to the Broad Street corridor and to build or buy those lots and decks along Marshall, Broad, Grace and Franklin Streets, but the parking areas are not generating anywhere near the money projected.

"Under a perfect scenario the parking would be enough to cover the debt service, unfortunately the debt service is going to ramp up over the course of the next 3 or 4 years," said Deputy Chief Officer of Finance Marcus Jones in May of 2010.

Mayor Jones' administration is proposing to issue $67-million in bonds to pay off the debt and take over the assets of the CDA; re-financing to an interest rate below 4 percent.

CenterStage is now open, so is Miller and Rhoads on Broad...all places that could eventually generate more need for parking. But the state is also about to complete its own new parking deck, taking more cars out of city owned decks.

"It's estimated it will take up to a thousand customers," said City Council President Kathy Graziano.

City council would have to approve the move its president applauds what she calls the administration's semi-solution to a serious problem.

"We really need to do some proactive work: A) on the debt, and B) on trying to figure out how to get more people to use these lots....or if we don't need these lots to figure out another solution to that space," said Graziano.

The proposal could save the city $30-million over the next two decades. On Monday, city council is expected to vote on a timetable to sell the bonds before the CDA's next debt payment is due on December 1.

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