Construction in 2019 will add more than 200 parking spots in downtown Georgetown.
The city plans to add to the 1,500 free parking spots available downtown by expanding an existing parking lot north of the Georgetown Public Library on Eighth Street and building a four-story parking garage on Main and Sixth streets across from Laurie’s Café.
“It’s not just people from out of town that visit our downtown, but our citizens are utilizing the downtown. The better facilities that we can provide … instead of them driving somewhere else … keeps their money local and helps support local businesses,” Assistant City Manager Laurie Brewer said.
Near the library, two abandoned buildings between Forest and Rock streets will be demolished to add 66 parking spaces to the existing parking area known as the Sunflower Lot, Brewer said.
The $500,000 project will also relocate the GoGeo bus stop on Eighth Street near the library’s north entrance to a location on Forest Street between the existing and expanded parking areas, Brewer said.
Georgetown City Council finalized a 20-year lease agreement in November with Williamson County, which owns the site of the expansion, that allows the city to construct new parking spaces. In lieu of rent, the city will waive up to $1.7 million of development costs for future county projects built within city limits. The city will also reimburse the county $231,000 for past development fees, Brewer said.
The project is slated to begin in the summer and take up to nine months to finish.
Library Director Eric Lashley said additional parking will improve safety and convenience for library visitors, especially with the new City Hall and municipal office campus set to open in January on Martin Luther King Jr. Street near the library.
“So many [library]visitors are seniors or moms with preschool kids, so anything that can help them or make it safer is a good thing,” he said.
The future parking garage on Main and Sixth streets will replace an existing parking lot that includes about 50 parking spaces. Preliminary plans show the garage will have four floors and about 200 parking spaces as well as rooftop parking and an elevator, Brewer said. Construction is slated to begin before September.
City council included $5 million for the garage in the city’s fiscal year 2018-19 fiscal year budget.
Lisa King—owner of Diva Chicks and president of the Downtown Georgetown Alliance, a network of downtown business owners—said she hopes the garage’s proximity to the Square will counter the perception that finding parking downtown is too difficult.
“It’s not necessarily that there’s not enough parking; [it’s] just the perception of it not being conveniently located,” King said.
How it works: What is a parking ambassador?
The city of Georgetown hired two part-time employees in March 2018 known as “parking ambassadors” to enforce the city’s three-hour downtown parking ordinance around the Square.
The ordinance limits on-street parking in certain locations to no more than three hours at a time between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. A violation can result in a warning, followed by a $20 fine for a second offense and $50 for a third offense. Violators who continue to overstay their parking spots after three offenses can draw $100 fines for each additional offense of the ordinance.
The ambassadors serve dual roles by enforcing the parking rules while also directing residents and visitors to free parking lots as well as downtown restaurants, shops and other locations.
Source: city of Georgetown/Community Impact Newspaper