With the Common Council approving a ground lease agreement Tuesday with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, demolition can begin on an old parking garage to make way for a newer and bigger one.
The agreement, city officials said, represents more than a parking garage to handle the growing needs of the Medical Campus. It also represents funding to improve neighborhoods within a mile of the Medical Campus, they said.
“This lease agreement will assist with the continued growth of the Medical Campus, and provide a range of community benefits to the surrounding community,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said.
Demolition of the current city-owned parking garage at 854 Ellicott St. is expected to begin within 60 days, said Medical Campus President Matthew K. Enstice. The new garage is expected to be completed in 2017, he said.
The current 39-year-old garage can accommodate about 900 vehicles. It will be demolished and replaced by the Medical Campus with an eight-story 1,900-vehicle garage under a 50-year ground lease agreement with the city that has two 25-year extensions.
Under the agreement, the Medical Campus initially would pay the city $3.25 million to build a parking garage on its land, then pay the city $267,000 annually with 3 percent increases every five years until the 30th year, when the base rent would be raised to $300,000, with annual increases of 2 percent thereafter.
Beyond the rent, the cash flow generated by the parking ramp fees will be shared with the city. All the proceeds will go to community projects in the Fruit Belt, Masten, Ellicott and Allentown neighborhoods.
The Medical Campus will get 40 percent, the City of Buffalo will get 40 percent, and the remaining 20 percent will be appropriated to the city with the surrounding community determining how that money will be spent. Over the first 30 years of the contract, the cash flow is projected at $15 million.
In addition, the agreement has hiring goals that the Medical Campus agreed to for the garage project, including a workforce that is 25 percent minority and 5 percent female.
The new parking garage is aimed at providing additional parking as the Medical Campus grows, and will serve patients, visitors and employees.
The garage could help somewhat with parking issues in the nearby Fruit Belt community, where residents complain that Medical Campus workers are parking on residential streets all day, making it impossible for residents to get parking spots near their homes. But those workers are generally parking in the Fruit Belt to avoid the parking fees in the on-campus garages and parking lots, so the new garage isn’t expected to eliminate the Fruit Belt parking issue. Instead, the city is continuing to push for resident parking permits in the Fruit Belt.
Faced with opposition from employee unions, the State Legislature last year rejected the city’s request for Fruit Belt residential parking, but Council President Darius G. Pridgen said the city would again try to get the measure passed.