Artists' renderings of a two-story, 150-space public parking garage -- to be located downtown on property bordered by Jackson, Walnut and Indiana streets -- were unveiled during a public hearing at City Hall.
City officials and a handful of local residents got a clearer picture Thursday evening of how the structure will look and how it will fit into the fabric of the downtown.
"A parking structure for the first time in Greencastle," Mayor Sue Murray said in setting the stage. "Yea, here we go ..."
Project Architect Bill Browne of Ratio Architects, Indianapolis, joined Mayor Murray and grant administrator Kristy Jerrell of the West Central Indiana Economic Development District (WCIEDD) in unveiling drawings of a building with a limestone look and red brick-like accents that should co-exist nicely with the older, historic buildings in the area.
More modern-looking parking garage designs were previously dismissed as not fully fitting in by city officials who had seen them. Ratio returned with a new design for the first of two public hearings to be conducted on the project.
"It feels like a municipal building or a federal structure," Browne said. "And that feels appropriate," he added, noting the proximity of the fire station, post office and the Carnegie library building.
The approximate total cost of the parking structure is estimated at $3,580,250 with a grant of $3,280,250 coming through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority via the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
The public structure will provide free parking for the downtown with vehicles entering and exiting only from the Jackson Street side of the garage.
The entrance is designed to be farther south on Walnut Street than the exit, Browne said, noting that traffic bottlenecks are more likely to occur at the entry to a parking garage than at the exit.
Pedestrian access to the garage will be via the northeast corner (with an interior elevator) and northwest corner (with stairs and a ramp).
Ratio is working on a design to allow access from the south side of the garage directly to the adjacent First Christian Church, possibly with a canopy included.
"Our charge," Browne said, "was to take the property at Indiana and Walnut streets over to Jackson and turn it into a parking garage for the City of Greencastle."
To do so will still require the acquisition of property, including the parking lot First Christian created on the former site of the Commercial Hotel, along with the small building on Indiana Street (just north of the alley) that houses the law offices of Darrell Felling. The other parcel is the former site of the Standard/Amoco gas station operated by Charlie Jenkins for many years at the southwest corner of Indiana and Walnut streets.
A series of window openings featuring terra cotta fins will help provide natural ventilation to the garage and allow natural light in as well.
Browne also assured the structure will be well lighted without many dark spots and designed so it will be easy to see inside the facility.
"We're always concerned about safety with any garage project," Browne said, pointing to an emphasis on lighting.
"We believe it's going to be quite a handsome building for the City of Greencastle," Browne said.
With final property acquisition and permitting processes still to come, Browne estimated the project going out for bids early in 2013.
Actual construction is expected to take 9-12 months for completion, he said, putting the opening date at January or spring 2014.