Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One solution to Victoria's financial problems - sell off the parkades

What benefits would the City get if it sold off the parkades?

The City of Victoria owns or operates five parkades.   I do not know what the ownership status of the one in the building with the downtown public library and I think there is a strong need for the City to own the Centennial Square parkade but there are three more that are stand alone parking structures.
  • View Street Parkade
  • Johnson Street Parkade
  • Yates Street Parkade
At the moment the City operates them and I assume them make a profit from them but is that profit enough to off set the loss in property taxes that these properties bring in?  Does it really make sense for the City to try and compete with private business in providing parking?

The City could sell the three stand alone parkades and reap a multitude of benefits
  • The City would free up money tied up in the land which could be used to pay down some of the infrastructure debt of the City
  • The City would get property taxes from these properties
  • The City would reduce the size of the permanent staff - there various long term subtle benefits in doing this
  • Properties that currently some of the worst eyesores in the City could be redeveloped.
  • The pricing for parking Downtown will better reflect the market value of the parking
The Yates Street Parkade is about 100,000 square feet in size.   If this was Class A office space, the building would be paying something like $700,000 a year in property taxes.  If the City were to sell all three parkades and they were developed as offices the city would be collecting $2,000,000 a year or more in property taxes. (the property tax amounts are conservative estimates)

When you look around town, the three stand alone City owned parkades are some of the worst eyesores going.   The Yates Street parkade is a completely out of keeping with Old Town.   The parkade reduces the heritage nature of quick a significant part of the core of the centre of town.

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Johnson Street between Douglas and Blanshard is one the deadest streets in Downtown and a large reason for this is the parkade mid street which is the largest one the City owns.  The parkade is not the only, the backside of the movie theater adds an even more imposing monolith on the south side of the street.   The redevelopment of this site would build a better connection between Old Town through to areas near Harris Green.

View Larger Map

The City of Victoria also owns a number of surface parking lots of which only one strikes me as one that could be sold - 820 Courtney Street.  This property is in the range of 10,000 square feet and could support a four to five story office building on it and bring in around $300,000 in property taxes, significantly more than is collected in parking fees from the site.

I really can not see many down sides to the City selling the parkades and significant numbers of benefits if it were to happen.
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