Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are Taxpayer Dollars Being Flagrantly Misused?

Yesterday I posted about the announced Broad Ripple parking garage and some tidbits I had gathered by simply going through government public records.

One document was the Request For Qualifications that was posted by the Ballard administration to solicit proposals for a parking structure in this area.  It specifically asked respondents to include construction cost estimates and operational expense estimates in their proposals.  Since this was not included in the winning group's proposal that I received from the City, I inquired after those numbers.  My request was denied with the citation of an Indiana State statute that trade secrets may be held from public disclosure laws.  I will, of course, take this up with the Indiana Public Access Counselor's office later this morning.

But, for now, I would like to share with you some conclusions of a 2007 study by Walker Parking Consultants analysing the adequacy of parking in the Broad Ripple Village area.  Walker Parking Consultants, along with Newpoint Parking, Keystone Construction, and RATIO Architects, formed the partnership that won the City's approval to build a 350 parking space garage with retail and a police substation at 6280-6286 N. College Avenue.

In the 2007 study, Walker Parking Consultants employed their 'trade secrets' to analyze the parking supply,  estimate cost of construction, estimate cost of operation, estimate costs to park, and locate where a new parking facility would be best suited to the needs of the area.  These are what I'd like to share with you today.

PARKING SUPPLY - the study concluded that of the 40 blocks of Broad Ripple Village, parking was adequate for almost all areas, at most times of the day, night, and week, in 2007 and as projected into the future.  There were 16 blocks that were shown to exceed 85% capacity at 11 pm on weekends.  A particular 6 block area was calculated to have a deficit of 132 parking spaces at 11 pm on weekends (adequate at all other times) and projected to have a deficit of 180 parking spaces at 11 pm on weekends in the future.

COST OF CONSTRUCTION -  the study noted the rising cost of concrete and cost of construction of parking garages over the previous 4 years, rising about 17% over that time span.  They concluded that it would cost $4.5 million to construct a 4 story, 300 space, parking garage.  They note that additional spaces would cost $21,878 per space.  Using that figure, a 350 space garage would come to $5.6 million - not including acquisition of land or demolition costs.

COST OF OPERATION - They concluded that it would cost between $450 and $600 per space, per year, to operate a garage in the Broad Ripple area.  Combining these figures with the construction costs, the study conclude that the enterprise would break even with a parking fee of $5 per car.

BEST LOCATION - the study found two 'best sites' - the one selected by Mayor Ballard's administration in the last few days, and one two blocks to the east, behind the Vogue.  They rejected the College/Westfield corner as requiring visitors to cross busy College Avenue to actually get to the venues of Broad Ripple, and concentrated on the area behind the Vogue.

So, fast forward to today.  We have a project which is being awarded $6.4 million dollars from the City to help fund what we are told will be a 350 space garage with retail and a police substation costing $15 million.  Unfortunately, the City has decided to keep the costs analysis to itself, so we cannot review it for adequacy.  What we can do is look at numbers that are available to the paying public.  Land is assessed at market values in Indiana now, so we should be able to rely somewhat upon assessed values for the cost of property.  The Assessor's records show that one of the two parcels needed for the proposed garage is owned by a group named 6286, LLC, c/o J. Todd Morris.  A Todd Morris is noted in the Keystone Group's proposal as the Parking Manager for group member Newpoint Parking.  The AV of that parcel is $106,100.  The property at 6280 N. College has an AV of $999,600, bringing the total AV to $1,105,700. 

Say the cost of a new garage rose another 17% in the four years since the 2007 study, even though we are in a recession -- that would bring the cost of construction to $6.5 million.  Total cost with land acquisition and construction, but without demolition, of $7.6 million -- very much in line with the cost to construct the Ivy Tech Multimodal Parking Garage/Library/Retail structure that was used in the Keystone Group's proposal to show expertise.

Instead we are supposed to accept, without documentation, the need to spend $15 million - $6.4 million, or 42%, to come from City funds.

Are taxpayer dollars being flagrantly misused?


Gary R. Welsh said...

Pat, The parking garage is simply a ruge for a retail development of the space. I'm betting they already have a Walgreens lined up to go in that space on the lower level. Why not? There is a CVS across the street. You may recall that the Broad Ripple Village Association blocked an effort by CVS to purchase the homes immediately behind its existing store so it could demolish and build a larger store with more parking at that location. That was viewed as encroaching on the neigbhorhood too much. This project will exacerbate the traffic congestion at an intersection that is already difficult to traverse during busy times.

Gary R. Welsh said...

That should read "ruse", not "ruge."

Citizen Kane said...

Yes - same song, different verse.

I am not sure why anyone would be concerned about releasing any details of this project; it is not as if it would be scrutinized by the media or that any prosecutorial investigations would commence.

So, they really must have something to hide. But for them to have the nerve to say that they can not release financial details about a project that is totally funded (I am assuming that the 6+ million basically pays for the parking garage. Also, if, as Advance Indiana states, it is a large corporate tenant like Walgreens, a certain portion of those spaces will be dedicated to Walgreens (24-hour operation) and any other tenant on the first floor. So, how many spaces will really be available to the public?