One Hand Washes The Other: City of Tampa and Hillsborough Community College Pool Resources for Parking FacilityWelcome to Ybor City, FL, Tampa's National Historic Landmark District where antique hunting and education subdue the day, and superb dining and lively entertainment rule the night.
In the late 1800s, Vincent Martinez Ybor founded the city when he established "shotgun houses" for his cigar factory workers -- unique for the period in that he allowed his workers to purchase these small homes and not just rent them. Along with the city's influx of Latin immigrants, of course, came its culture of architecture, dining, dancing, cigar-making, etc.
Ten years ago, the district was in the throes of decay until the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce recognized its historic significance and instituted its renovation. The success of that restoration allows you to experience an era of wrought iron balconies, globe streetlights, brick-lined walkways and the architecture of cigar factories, social clubs and other unique buildings as you shop, dine and are otherwise entertained. So popular now, the area is often called "the Bourbon Street of Florida." In fact, because of the district's success by 1999, you would also have experienced a severe lack of parking. Then, as now, on any given Friday or Saturday night, from 10,000 to 15,000 people fill the area until about 3:00 a.m.
No financing, no parking
Fortunately, however, in 1998, the City of Tampa, Department of Public Works, Parking Division conducted a study including both long- and short-range parking goals. As redevelopment of the area was progressing, the city would sacrifice surface lots to development. Those sacrifices freed up development space, but also strained parking for students attending the Ybor City Campus of Hillsborough Community College (HCC), situated in the heart of the district. Tampa had been allowing the college to use some of its now disappearing surface lots.
"Obviously," notes Rick Benyo, operations superintendent for the Parking Division, "the parking space deficit would have to be made up, probably with a multilevel parking facility. The question was where to get funding for a facility that would cost in the area of $18 million. Tampa didn't have enough budget resources at the time."
The answer came in the form of $6 million in state funding to HCC. The college and the state agreed those monies could be applied towards building a joint-use parking facility.
Carlos Aguiar, applications systems analyst for the Parking Division, says, "It really made sense. The community college had a need for about 800 spaces during the daytime when most students were present for classes. Ybor City needed the additional spaces for evenings and weekends to absorb tourists attracted to the city's nighttime entertainment."
Moreover, HCC happened to have property in the vicinity where previous studies had shown that a new parking facility would best serve the community. The community college would donate that property for parking use. By the same token, other properties in their possession would be converted to green space, enhancing the college campus and the Ybor district, as well. The parking lot property was valued at approximately $3 million dollars. Combined with the $6 million state funding, and another $9 million that the City of Tampa was able to contribute, a joint-use plan was formulated and construction begun for a multilevel 1,240 space facility.
Called the Fernando Noriega Jr. Palm Avenue Garage (named after the Mayor of Tampa's tireless coordinator for development, who was highly instrumental in the development of Ybor City), the multilevel structure is designed to fit the architecture of the area.
The facility is divided into north and south modules: Palm Avenue defines it northern border, 8th Avenue to the south with two reversible exit lanes, 13th Street to the east with three exit lanes, and Nuccio Parkway to the west. The north side accommodates 552 spaces; 688 in the south side. The two modules are connected at the third and fourth levels over 9th Avenue with three entrance lanes in the north module, and two entrance and two exit lanes in the south module.
The City of Tampa opted for an Amano-McGann System installed and serviced by Access Control Technologies (ACT), Orlando, FL. The system ACT recommended and installed is comprised of 16 Amano Cincinnati AGP-1700 barrier gates (two with battery backup at the exit lanes), nine AGP-5210 fee computers with fee indicators, validators and lockboxes, seven ETP-22 ticket dispensers, McGann revenue and facilities management software, and 12 Mag 280 card readers with buffering capability.
All available space between transient and contract (monthly) parkers is manually controlled by ropes separating the two sections. The north module and part of the south module is reserved for HCC students during the day. During the evening, reserved spaces drop to 200.
The city controls the amount of spaces available at designated times. Lanes 9, 10 and 11 are set to "free entry," automatically opening to the presence of a vehicle. Students purchase and display hang tags for access authorization to the north module.
The remaining 440 spaces in the south module are designated for transient parkers and three additional groups of monthly parkers. Entrance for them is restricted to lanes 3 and 4 off of 8th Avenue, and lanes 5 and 6 off of 9th Avenue. Access for all parkers is round the clock seven days a week.
"In a nutshell," concludes Aguiar, "HCC gets about 800 spaces, while we use the remaining 440 for daytime shoppers and visitors. The evenings and weekends belong to us; but it's a win-win for everybody. We're very happy with the Amano-McGann system and Access Controls Technology for their attention to detail and service."
As the area develops, the popularity of the historic district grows, and surface lots become scarce, it is likely the city will build new parking structures like the Palm Avenue Garage.
Jan Pero is with Amano Cincinnati.