Toledo City Council on Tuesday unanimously authorized Mayor Mike Bell to negotiate the sale of the three city parking garages and the takeover of parking-meter management in downtown.
The port authority has approval to buy the Vistula, Port Lawrence, and Superior garages from the city for an estimated $15 million, plus some working capital to begin making improvements at the three garages and to metered parking. The city would have to pay about $9.8 million to retire its own debt for the garages.
Deputy Mayor of Operations Steve Herwat said it is still unclear how the city would retain after the sale since it does not know how much the bond issuance would cost.
Councilman George Sarantou suggested the city put 5 or 10 percent of the money it keeps into the city’s rainy day fund — which is empty after several years of austere budgets.
The garages have about 2,400 parking spaces, while downtown Toledo streets have about 1,000 metered spaces. All now are managed by the Downtown Toledo Parking Authority, which was organized in 1995 by the city and Downtown Toledo Vision Inc.
Council also voted Tuesday night to end its agreement with the parking authority and it will be up to the port authority whether to retain the agency.
The parking facilities are among a catalogue of assets the deficit-ridden city has put up for sale in hopes of raising cash for its operations. They are by far the most valuable to date to find a buyer, with the only other large sales involving The Docks restaurant complex on the Maumee River in East Toledo and 69 acres of the nearby Marina District development site. The $2.15 million sale of The Docks and the pending $3.8 million Marina District deal both involve Dashing Pacific Group Ltd., a Chinese investment group.
Bond issues for the parking transaction would include a $10 million, tax-exempt bond issue through the Ohio Department of Transportation State Infrastructure Bank Bond Fund and $6 million in taxable bonds from the port authority’s fund.
Council also Tuesday did not vote on a Bell administration proposal to end the decades-old three-hour free lunchtime metered street parking downtown. Instead, it sent the ordinance back to the administration.