City Council grabs another parking lot for new City Hall

     City Council moved Tuesday to acquire, at least temporarily, another parking lot for its new City Hall location.

     Council voted unanimously to lease a parking lot behind the El Paso Times Building, the future site of at least a part of the new City Hall.

     It's the third parking lot acquired by the City in the area and has 134 parking spaces. Coupled with a 100-space lot across Main Street and the 150-space lot in front of the Times building, acquired by the City when it purchased the Times building.

     That will bring the number of total spaces for the new City Hall to 384, four more than the current City Hall, according to the man in charge of the relocation process, John Neal.

     The price tag, which City officials said was included in the $29 million set aside for City Hall relocation, is just under $60,000 a year. The City signed a 10-year lease after Union Pacific refused to sell the property.

     The cost per space is about $37 a month, well below the Downtown average of $53. City officials said all three lots are within three minutes of all three of the new City Hall buildings, including the Texas Street building and Luther Building at Campbell and Main.

     City officials assured ABC-7 that the City Hall relocation is on-time and on-budget.

     "We're well within our moving budget that's been approved by the Council on September 18th, 2012," Neal said. "Overall we had a $29 million budget that included acquisition of the buildings and renovations of those buildings. So both from the general fund perspective and from the capital budget the council has approved, we're well within the budget."

     During Tuesday's discussion, City Manager joyce Wilson mentioned that there is some outside interest in developing the parking lot in front of the Times building into a parking structure with retail on the ground floor, bringing even more parking to the area.

     "Now we've got a couple, two, three entities that want to look at whether or not we want a joint venture and I think actually it would be really good for the area. It would address parking problems for everyone longer term and be an income generating facility. So we'll see."

      Rep. Cortney Niland added, "Given that is a surface lot it makes sense to develop that into a parking structure so we may look to develop a public-private partnership. We may look to develop something with the RMA (Regional Mobility Authority). We're not quite sure. But that's certainly something that there's a need of downtown and that space makes perfect sense for it."

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