Project Aims to Alleviate Downtown Parking Challenges
images courtesy Georgetown City Council
A potential parking garage site at the Tamiro Plaza lot could be the key to solving Georgetown’s downtown parking problem for the near future. Mayor Josh Schroeder says, “This is phase 1. There will be multiple parking garages.”
Five parking garage sites were discussed at the City Council workshop November 9:
- Austin Avenue and Fourth Street by the Monument Café, owned by the city; potential construction cost $8.2 million – $17.9 million
- Austin Avenue and Sixth Street by the Tamiro Plaza, not owned by the city; potential construction cost $10.4 million – $11.5 million
- Sixth and Main Streets by Tejas Meat Supply, owned by the city; potential construction cost $7 million – $8 million
- Ninth and Forest Streets by the Georgetown Public Library, owned by the city; potential construction cost $3.5 million to $4.5 million
- Ninth and Main Streets by Grace Heritage Center, owned by the city; potential construction cost $7.1 million – $21.7 million
Driven by Georgetown’s growing pains, the parking garage project has been in the works since 2015. “We’ve seen an uptick in the use of our downtown area even during COVID,” Councilwoman Amanda Parr says. “We have multiple new businesses on the Square. This is leading to more people spending more time on the Square, which is what we want people to do, but there has to be a place for them to park. I think there’s no surprise that we’re all supportive of the need for a parking garage. The parking problem has become imminent.”
All seven council members supported the Tamiro Plaza location, citing its proximity to the Square, low impact on public parking during construction, and easy access from major-thoroughfare Austin Avenue. While the city doesn’t own the Tamiro Plaza lot, Mayor Schroeder says the owners are interested in selling the property. “[Staff] didn’t want to get too far in discussions until they ran it by Council to see if Council thought it was a viable option,” he says, assuring that there is “absolutely zero chance that we will use condemnation authority.”
The Monument and library sites were quickly opposed by council members, with some saying the library lot is too small to meet the parking demand and both areas already have plenty of parking.
Councilman Steve Fought added that people with handicaps would have a hard time getting to the Square from the sites. Most members were also against the Sixth and Main lot, noting its small size, proximity to residences, limited access during events, and buried downtown location that would make it hard to find for newcomers. “We already tried that one and failed. Why are we going to try it again?” Councilman Kevin Pitts says, referring to the option’s public pushback in 2019. Amanda Parr and Councilman Jake French also said a parking garage isn’t the highest and best use for the Sixth and Main location.
Parr, Pitts, and French supported a parking garage at Ninth and Main as an alternative to the Tamiro Plaza lot. “Those two lots have several options for high capacity parking and for mixed retail and/or residential components, which I would like to see adjacent to the Square,” Councilman French says. “Both of these lots are easily accessible and surrounded by existing commercial development. While the Ninth and Main lot would put pressure on existing, limited parking, I think the short-term pain is worth it in the long term.”
BUSINESS OWNERS REACT
The question if there’s a need for parking is unfortunately no longer an option. We’ve got to get this one figured out and do it in Georgetown fashion, with positive community support and involvement.Cody Hirt, co-owner Mesquite Creek Outfitters
All Things Kids owner Karen Soeffker describes the search for downtown parking as a daunting adventure. “Add on 100+ temperatures in the summer and that makes it even less attractive to walk from distant parking spaces with strollers and toddlers in tow,” she says. “Providing parking garages near the Square will keep our businesses accessible, free up street parking for downtown residents, and ensure our Square remains a family-friendly destination; not just a nightlife spot.”
For Nick Austin, the parking issue is a personal struggle. As owner of We Are Not Broken on the Square, a photography studio and nonprofit organization, she says it’s difficult to continually find parking in the Square’s three-hour spots or transport equipment to her business from two blocks away in the parking lot at Ninth and Main. “The economic growth is fantastic, but with that should also come the projects to facilitate that growth in the way of additional parking,” she says.
“We know that there’s no slowing down the growth of this amazing community,” Mesquite Creek Outfitters co-owner Cody Hirt adds. “People are going to come, and they’re going to need places to park. We can either sit back and get upset over them parking in our beautiful downtown neighborhoods or we can come together as a community and work on a design and develop something that works for all of us.”
The city encourages public input on the parking garage sites through an online survey at georgetown.org and a printed version at the Visitors Center. The survey closes December 31. The project’s process—public engagement, land acquisition if needed, permitting/site review, design, bidding, and construction—could take up to two-and-a-half years.