MDHA Has Agreement To Purchase Downtown Property For Parking Garage
by Chris Cannon
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The board for the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency approved a contractor that will build its new downtown parking garage.
The R.C. Mathews Company won the bid to construct the project Tuesday afternoon.
The agency plans to build the garage on the corner of 5th Avenue North and Church Street, on a three-quarter of an acre of property currently owned by Nashville developer Tony Giarrantana.
MDHA executive director James Harbison said the mayor's office asked the agency earlier this year to look into the parking shortage in downtown Nashville.
"There have been several good studies in our community that demonstrate there's a 12,000-plus parking shortfall in the urban core," Harbison said.
According to Harbison there is not much free land in that area of downtown to build a new parking garage and the land at the along 5th Avenue North seemed like a logical place. They approached Giarrantana about selling some of the land, and he agreed to sell three-quarters of the property for $9 million.
"We bought just the parcel sufficient for the parking and allowing him to retain what he thought he needed for his future plans," said Harbison.
The property is the site where Giarrantana had planned to build The Signature Tower, which would have been the tallest building in the southeast. Plans for that project fell through during the recession.
The MDHA parking garage will be eight stories tall, with four floors of parking underground and seven stories above ground, with a total of nearly 1,200 parking spaces. There will be retail space built on the street level.
The number of parking spaces is only 10% of what the suggested shortage is in the downtown core. Harbison knows it is just a dent in the parking problem.
"We can't solve the whole problem, so you eat an elephant one bite at a time, and this was our first bite. If we have another opportunity, we'll certainly exploit it. But this one was available," he said.
The total price for the project will be $30 million. MDHA will own the garage, but it will be financed through a private development company.
Construction is expected to start in the fall and should take between 12 and 16 months to complete.