Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A split-level parking area will be constructed at Main and Pine streets, city officials confirmed Monday.
With demolition of the city parking garage, an alternative design plan surfaced recently for the unenclosed parking area that's going in its place.
Instead of one, 42-slot surface parking lot, the split level plans calls for a lower lot that's level with, and accessed from, Pine Street, and a smaller upper lot that's level with and accessed from Main Street. The split level design affords two more parking slots, for a combined total of 44, and more important, suddenly, it capitalizes on a lovely canal view that had been hidden by the parking garage since the 1970s.
The alternative lot design was proposed while Empire Dismantlement Corp., the company hired to demolish the parking garage and lay down a surface parking lot in its place, was in the midst of demolition in mid-summer. Common Council members unanimously indicated favor for the new design, but only on the condition it wouldn't drive the total demolition-construction project cost any higher than the $1.2 million original estimate.
CRA Infrastructure & Engineering and Empire Dismantlement worked together to keep the new design within the project budget, according to R. Charles Bell, city director of planning and development.
After demolition, the city has about $185,000 left to spend on surface lot(s.) The split-level design cost estimate is $197,000. Up to $15,000 of leftover Community Development Block Grant funding will be applied to cover the balance, so that the city isn't spending any extra money to have the alternative, Bell said.
Empire Dismantlement agreed to "eat" any portion of final cost that exceeds $200,000, Mayor Michael Tucker added.
The split-level design is preferred for several reasons including: It creates more localized parking on both Main and Pine streets and, in the aggregate, more parking spaces; it demands less fill on the site, which is on a significant incline; and it opens up views of the Erie Canal "overlook" atop the Electric Building, which from Main Street was hidden by the parking garage for decades.
"Everybody decided this was a better design," Bell said. "It has lower maintenance costs going forward ... and it protects a lot of the sight lines that have been uncovered."
The design change also provides some relief to Empire Dismantlement, which per terms of its original contract with the city was supposed to have the project finished by Sept. 27 and faced a $500 per day penalty. Late last month it was nowhere near finished — unexpected rebar in the concrete parking garage made demolition a harder job, in part because it caused Empire's equipment to break down repeatedly — and was potentially looking at a $10,000 to $15,000 loss in penalties, according to Tucker.
With the city's acceptance of a change order in the contract, penalties are canceled.
The city and the company are finalizing the lot construction schedule this week. Empire is aiming for an early November finish, Bell said.