City unveils new plans for downtown parking ramp

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- The City of Eau Claire is showing off its latest plans for a parking ramp that could be built in downtown Eau Claire.

The proposed parking ramp would be located behind the JAMF and RCU corporate offices near Phoenix Park.

Finding a closer spot for events that take part in the park could get easier in the future if a proposed three story parking ramp with room for up to 575 cars gets built.

“The animation shows a three level ramp. One level is at grade and two are above ground. It's a little bit less than 30 feet tall,” City Engineer Dave Solberg explained.

Mike Carlson, the president of Downtown Eau Claire Inc. says the new ramp would provide parking for businesses near Phoenix Park and encourage more people to shop and spend money in the area.

“This is what's best,” Carlson said.

From the top of the city's current parking structure you can see where the new ramp would go. It's about two city blocks away. So why would the City of Eau Claire want to build two parking structures so close together? We asked city engineer Dave Solberg.

“If you calculate the need for RCU and JAMF that far exceeds the capacity of the existing ramp,” Solberg answered.

Solberg says a parking agreement with JAMF Software and RCU requires the city to provide 150 parking spaces within 800 feet of those buildings. Voters With Facts, a group that has been critical of the costs involved in building the ramp, has said that it favors surface parking as the best option for the city, the businesses, and taxpayers.

“There is enough space to do flat street parking. So why would we incur all of this cost for a structure if we don't have the revenue to pay for it,” Bob Von Haden said.

Thursday’s open house doesn't replace a public hearing the city council will hold in August or September.
A vote would follow. If the proposal is approved, the city could gather bids in December of this year or January 2015. Construction could then start in the spring of 2015.

As of Thursday night, Solberg said there was no cost for the latest plans.

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