This preliminary rendering of the new downtown garage shows seven levels of parking.
This preliminary rendering of the new downtown garage shows seven levels of parking. Credit: Courtesy / Saldaña & Associates Inc.

Bexar County Commissioners are moving forward with plans to implement an eight-story, 700-car garage downtown.

The 34,000 sq-ft. building will be located behind the County’s Presidio Gallery, formerly known as the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas building, at 126 E. Nueva. Officials hope the structure will mitigate current and future downtown parking shortages, while providing a new revenue stream for the County.

Over the last six months, about 500 parking spots in surface lots have been lost to new developments near the Bexar County Courthouse and Justice Center complex, said County Facilities Management Department Director Dan Curry.

About 5,900 visitors come to the complex daily, and with only 1,061 parking spots within a six-block radius of the complex, there is a 4,848 daily parking deficit, according to a feasibility study performed by Saldaña & Associates Inc. The firm was hired by the County when questions arose about the project’s return on investment.

“We think the [parking] gap is significant enough that there’s a tangible need right now as well as a larger need coming up in the future,” Curry said.

The red squares in the above image mark County-owned downtown properties, and the green circles show planned downtown redevelopment projects.
The red squares in the above image mark County-owned downtown properties, and the green circles show planned downtown redevelopment projects. Credit: Courtesy / Bexar County

The County approved a contract on Tuesday with Saldaña & Associates to design the garage. Based on construction cost averages for parking garages across Texas, County officials anticipate the new garage to cost about $16 million.

They plan to operate the new structure with minimal staff, and save the first level of the building for future “County functions or lease space – whatever the [Commissioners] court decides.” The garage will be strictly for County employees who have non-daily parking arrangements, maximizing the parking availability for daily users in the South Flores street garage.

The new garage also will accommodate the waiting list of 200 County employees who want to get on a monthly parking program, Curry said.

Commissioners also approved several revisions to the County’s parking policy for its garage on the corner of South Flores and West Nueva streets. Under the revised policy, a “flat rate” program for Thursday-Sunday will apply, and daily, monthly, and special event fees will change based on local market rates. Officials also will specify that free parking only applies to County employees who have worked there uninterrupted for 25 years, and that parking during special events is not part of monthly parking garage fees. The policy also will adjust the validated rate for jurors who serve two or more days.

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Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said moving forward with the new garage plans “is a real important step by the court.

“Things are just booming all over town,” he said, citing several nearby redevelopment projects that will produce hotels, apartments, and other mixed-use developments. Some of the major area projects include the construction the new Federal Courthouse and the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project.

“The downtown area is going to look entirely different,” Wolff said, “and this parking garage is going to play a big key in it in terms of what might happen on the weekends.”

Camille Garcia

Camille Garcia

Camille, a San Antonio native, formerly worked at the Rivard Report as assistant editor and reporter. She is a freelance writer based in Austin, where she is getting her master's in Latin American Studies...