By Susan Elise Campbell
After a long wait, the Saratoga City Center’s 610-space downtown parking lot between Maple Avenue and High Rock is set to open.
Ryan McMahon, City Center executive director, recently took a drive through the entire garage, top to bottom, the first non-construction person to do so.
“It feels good to get this going,” he said.
At one time the convention and events venue was going to build a 750-space garage on its own, but after some years of negotiations and design changes, construction started in September 2019 in partnership with the City of Saratoga Springs.
“We have great partners in the city,” McMahon said. “All five commissioners voted unanimously before the last election. We could not do this without a strong community partnership.”
The grand opening was will take place at the end of October.
A foot bridge connects the garage with the City Center above Maple Avenue. The updated design has a glass span making it “almost invisible” from some angles, McMahon said. More important, a bridge removes the danger of walking across the street, he said.
McMahon said City Center was losing business due to the lack of adequate parking. Not only will the new garage help grow its business, but other downtown businesses will benefit as well from a paid-parking facility.
The final design is not the ordinary parking garage. Every floor is flat, which allows it to be used as a venue for such activities as the Spa City Farmers’ Market, which can winter there this year if they chose, he said.
“Construction was running only a month behind when the pandemic hit,” said McMahon. “The precast facility in Vermont was shut down due to the coronavirus and even though the garage is an infrastructure project, all manufacturing was on hold.”
City Center staff did not experience an interruption coming into the office because of the construction project, he said. That was an advantage for McMahon.
“If the building were unoccupied for a long time, problems would come up with the plumbing and HVAC system,” he said.
McMahon said there is an increase in events being planned for 2021 and beyond, “ahead of where we are normally booking.”
Meanwhile he is trying to book event presenters that will be “simulcast out” to viewers. “We contract the simulcasting rather than keep the technology in-house, because it changes so quickly,” he said.
“When the garage opens and more people are allowed into the City Center, we will see how much of a draw the garage and walking bridge are,” he said.
By Susan Elise Campbell