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Trends balance downtown parking


For the first time in about four years, there’s probably some excess supply in downtown parking, says Assistant City Manager Rick Clark.

Last week’s initial approval of plans by Employers Mutual Casualty Co. to build two parking garages at 8th and Mulberry streets will add about 300 spaces to the net supply of parking in the near term, Clark said.

In the next couple of years, however, that extra capacity will probably be absorbed with the expansion of Wells Fargo Financial and other development downtown, he said.

Two countervailing trends affecting parking have been the construction of large corporate garages by Allied Group Inc. and Wells Fargo, balanced by parking that’s opened up because of more downtown vacancies, he said.

EMC, Wells Fargo and the city of Des Moines have been working for nearly a year on an agreement in which EMC will build two new eight-level parking garages that will provide about 1,800 covered parking spaces.

Last week EMC’s board of directors and the city council both approved a letter of intent for the project to move forward.

Under the proposal, the city will demolish the existing antiquated garage at Eighth and Mulberry streets and then sell the block to EMC for construction of the new garages.

The agreement allows EMC to replace surface parking it will lose when it sells two surface parking lots it owns to Wells Fargo, which will use the parking for its new facility that will be completed in late 2005. Under a separate pending agreement, EMC will sell the two blocks bordered by 8th and 9th streets and Cherry Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

EMC’s parking garage will provide its employees with covered parking directly across the street from their building.

“We’re excited about making this happen,” said Don Klemme, EMC’s senior vice president of administration, who said covered parking will put them on a par with Wells Fargo and Allied, both of which already provide this benefit for their employees.

The two garages will be designed and built concurrently to save costs. Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering LLP was chosen to design the structures. Neumann Brothers Inc. will be the general contractor for the design-build project.     Construction is expected to begin by late summer and be completed by December 2005.

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