Reality hit the ThinkBIG supporters yesterday after city staffers published a report that discussed the selling of publicly owned parking spaces and garages for the next 50 years for upfront construction cash. The report did not look good concerning three issues, privatizing parking will force visitors to spend more money to park their cars downtown, there will be $9 million dollar hole in the city’s general fund every year with no plan to replace it, and the original value that was earlier used for leasing away the parking rights was overstated.
The report also pointed out that the leasing of on-street parking rights to build a new arena is not even legal according to current law and that the city has to pay off $52 million of bond debt before control could be handed over to any private parking company. Apparently, city officials are looking at ways to twist the law so that the leasing of on-street parking could be used to pay off this debt and opening the city up to lawsuits.
To top it off, the estimated cost of building the arena was increased by another $19 million over the past few weeks from $387 million to $406 million so that a VIP parking garage can be constructed on site. This number does not include the costs to build the necessary infrastructure around the site needed to support an arena, such as new water mains, improved roadways, and electrical capacity upgrades.
March is coming fast, I wish Ronald Burkle were an option.