ABOVE: The City's parking lot on Baker Street adjacent to the railroad tracks.
A seed was recently planted in Mount Dora. One that could significantly grow the number of downtown parking spaces.
At a September 27 workshop, representatives of G3 Development presented the City Council with a preliminary public-private partnership (PPP) proposal to build a parking garage with 488 spaces. The site combines contiguous lots currently being acquired by G3 with the city’s existing parking lot adjacent to the railroad tracks between Tremain and Baker Streets. The small part of Baker Street that dead ends and sits between the parking lot and the soon-to-be G3 lots would be the only other property included. PPPs are often used to bridge funding gaps for costly government projects. These partnerships vary greatly, but allow a government access to a private company’s resources, which can include financial, design, construction, technical, management, and operational expertise according to its specific needs. A well-negotiated PPP marries the strengths of the city and its corporate partner to add quality and cost-effectiveness to a project. A prior study by the City of Mount Dora cited a parking shortfall of 275 spaces in the downtown core. However, G3 estimates that 45,000 square feet of commercial space is currently vacant, and as more of that space becomes occupied, the parking deficit would probably increase.
The PPP is still in its embryonic stage, so it’s premature for renderings or detailed site plans. However, Gerry Guenther and his son, Austin, of G3 Development, stated the structure would have entrances on Charles and Baker streets to reduce impact on the residential neighborhood to the east. Additionally, the garage could remain within downtown’s critical 35-foot maximum height restriction. To accomplish this, the structure would be two covered levels with a third uncovered rooftop level.
G3’s presentation included cost comparisons of two other parking solutions the city is already considering. The PPP garage would alleviate the current parking shortfall by yielding 488 parking spaces at a cost of approximately $17,500 per parking space plus a 10% contingency. The total estimated cost would be $8.5 million.
According to the developer’s presentation, a public parking lot at the post office site would yield 37 parking spaces, cost over $33,000 per parking space based on a land purchase price of $910,000, and incur a construction cost of $317,488 totalling over $1.2 million. Another option, the Gobie property on Third Avenue, would cost $924,000 and yield 43 spaces at a cost of approximately $21,500 per parking space. Both of those options would cost the city future property tax revenue and do not fill the city’s 275 space deficit. Additionally, each of those could have a 30% contingency, according to Gerry Guenther, however the City's amount could differ.
ABOVE: The lots on Baker Street that G3 is currently acquiring.
At the workshop, the city council agreed to explore the PPP option. At this early phase, the city would decide what it wants from such a partnership. The next step would be for the two parties to negotiate and structure a partnership that is mutually beneficial. Once that framework is worked out between the developer and the City Manager, the city council would vote whether to proceed. If either party decides a partnership isn't in their best interest, the city can proceed with its other options and G3 would build something else on their lots.
The Guenthers are local developers that have lived in Mount Dora for decades and have developed properties in Mount Dora, as well as other cities in Lake County. Their most recent downtown project is the purchase and renovation of the three-story building on the corner of Third Avenue and Baker Street. Pineapple Point, the undeveloped lakefront acreage next to Lakeside Inn, is also in their portfolio of properties.
For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. To get the area's top stories in your inbox once a month, sign up for the free monthly issue of Mount Dora Buzz here.