Council approves downtown parking lot design

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Gilroy city staff recommend this design out of four alternatives for a parking lot on the corner of Eigleberry and Seventh streets, which includes 137 spaces and a pedestrian walkway to Monterey Street. Design by BKF Engineers

The Gilroy City Council approved a recommended design for a downtown parking lot April 19.

The parking lot, proposed at the corner of Eigleberry and Seventh streets, is expected to go out to bid later this year after the design is finalized.

The site is currently a vacant lot and the former Gilroy Demonstration Garden. Talks have been ongoing to move the garden to another location in the city.

BKF Engineers designed four alternatives for the parking lot. Lighting, landscaping and electric vehicle charging stations are included on all options.

On staff’s recommendation, the council agreed to move forward with an alternative that includes 137 spaces and standard lighting due to cost estimates.

The council approved a $1.5 million budget for the parking lot in January 2020, and later in the year awarded a $241,396 contract to BKF Engineers to design it.

Construction costs range from $1.6 million to $1.9 million, based on the chosen design, leaving the city with a shortfall of $521,327 to $855,875 after subtracting design and other costs from the original budget, according to City Engineer Gary Heap.

As a result, the council will be asked to approve $208,000 from the capital projects fund, $250,000 from the public facilities fund and $49,292 from the general fund for the construction costs.

A $300,000 grant the city recently received from the state for a City Hall backup generator project freed up some money in the public facilities fund to be used toward the parking lot, Heap said.

Mayor Marie Blankley was the lone dissenting vote, saying that although she supported the parking lot, she was concerned about the escalating costs.

“It hasn’t even gotten out to bid yet, but it’s now over $15,000 per parking space,” she said. “It’s outrageous. I am just shocked at how the money gets carried away.”

Councilmembers Rebeca Armendariz and Fred Tovar said they were disappointed that the residents living in the area were not contacted to give their input on the project. City Administrator Jimmy Forbis responded by saying city staff will meet with the neighbors to get their feedback before the project goes out to bid.

A 2019 study by the Gilroy Downtown Business Association came to the conclusion that the downtown area is about 600 parking spots short, which will be especially needed once new businesses move into retrofitted buildings.

Councilmember Peter Leroe-Muñoz said the parking lot is an investment in downtown.

“This is an opportunity to continue to build out the infrastructure of downtown,” he said. “Ultimately I think it’s going to attract more people downtown.”

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