ORANGE – A five-level parking structure planned for the Santa Fe Depot will begin construction in summer 2014 at the earliest, officials said this week.
The structure will include two subterranean and three above-ground levels with 611 parking stalls. The project will be built over a current parking lot on the southwest corner of Lemon Street and Maple Avenue. The structure will displace about 100 slots, so the parking gain will be 500 or so.
About 500 of these spaces are intended for Metrolink parking as the system expands service with more trains in coming years. The rest of the stalls will be for public parking. The City Council approved the project's preliminary design concepts in 2011 and plans to approve the final plans over the next year.
The project had been under the scope of the Orange Redevelopment Agency until the state dissolved all redevelopment agencies last year. The city's Successor Agency, formed to wind down remaining Redevelopment Agency projects, is overseeing the development with the Orange County Transportation Authority.
Officials had hoped construction would begin this year, but the project has been moved to 2014 following the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency. The city and OCTA are working to secure funding for the project, which is expected to cost between $15million and $22million. OCTA officials said they hope to secure as much as $20 million from state and federal funds set aside for transportation.
The structure's proposed design will replicate the historic nature of Old Towne and feature a brick facade and other architectural details appropriate for a new structure in a historic district, said Barbara Messick, the city's economic development project manager. The structure will include solar canopies on the top level to generate solar power.
The long-term plan for the area includes adding a restaurant and retail development adjacent to the parking structure, making the Santa Fe Depot train station feel like it is connected with the central Old Towne business district, Messick said.
The structure will be the city's first multilevel public parking building and will help ease parking congestion in Old Towne, officials said. It's still unclear whether parking fees will be required for Metrolink or other customers. All current public parking in the city is free.
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