Con­ven­tion Fa­cil­i­ties Author­ity plans new garage

The Columbus Dispatch - - Faith&values - By Kim­ball Perry kperry@dispatch.com @kim­ballperry

The Franklin County Con­ven­tion Fa­cil­i­ties Author­ity is plan­ning a 650-space, $18 mil­lion park­ing garage, say­ing more park­ing is needed near the Greater Colum­bus Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

“We are in the event busi­ness and part of that means we have to pro­vide park­ing spa­ces for those who drive in to our event,” Author­ity Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Don Brown said Thurs­day.

The new garage would be built on what is now an Author­ity-owned sur­face park­ing lot Brown called “The Lower Yard,” east of the Con­ven­tion Cen­ter and north of the Drury Inn near Na­tion­wide Boule­vard and North 3rd Street.

The author­ity cur­rently has 4,000 park­ing spa­ces in three park­ing garages and a sur­face lot for at­ten­dance at Colum­bus Blue Jack­ets games, Con­ven­tion Cen­ter events and vis­its to the Short North and Arena District. Even with 4,000 spots, “we typ­i­cally have over­flow con­di­tions” dur­ing events, Brown said.

“They’re Ohioans. They don’t want to walk from the north garage. That’s a half-mile,” Brown said of the dis­tance from the Con­ven­tion Cen­ter to the Goodale garage, which he said “is half-full all the time.”

The Author­ity plans to sell bonds — sim­i­lar to tak­ing out a mort­gage on a res­i­dence — to raise the $18 mil­lion needed for the garage. County Trea­surer Ch­eryl Brooks Sullivan plans to buy the bonds be­cause they pay more than the av­er­age govern­ment bond in­vest­ment.

“We did this be­fore,” Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent John O’Grady said Thurs­day.

Those en­ti­ties agreed when the Author­ity built the $18 mil­lion, 800-space Goodale park­ing garage that opened in 2016 that the trea­surer would buy the bonds. The same thing hap­pened, County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Kenneth Wil­son noted, when the Author­ity built its Vine Street park­ing garage.

“It was a fan­tas­tic in­vest­ment for the county,” O’Grady said Thurs­day. The three county com­mis­sion­ers sit on the Trea­surer’s in­vest­ment ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee.

With the trea­surer buy­ing the bonds, it saves the county the cost of is­su­ing bonds on the pri­vate mar­ket, pro­vides a bet­ter fi­nan­cial re­turn and is a safe in­vest­ment be­cause the in­come back­ing the bonds comes from all of the Author­ity’s park­ing fa­cil­i­ties, two of which are debt-free, Wil­son said. The county also can opt out of the fi­nanc­ing af­ter five years.

The new garage will have ac­cess from ex­ist­ing ramps from North 3rd Street to the Con­ven­tion Cen­ter and sec­ondary ac­cess from Na­tion­wide Boule­vard.

The board is ex­pected to con­sider ap­proval at Tues­day’s meet­ing to seek pro­pos­als for the de­sign and construction of the garage, ex­pected to open in 2020.

“I ex­pect the board will au­tho­rize this to go ahead,” Brown said.

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