Parking Deck 3, 20th St. North ©Bob Farley/f8Photo
During Monday’s special committee of the whole meeting, Mayor Randall Woodfin discussed a potential deal for Birmingham to sell six parking decks, putting $40 million back into the city to alleviate financial stress caused by an over $60 million deficit from last year, according to the mayor.
According to the FAQ given on the Birmingham city website, the proposed parking facilities are the following:
• Parking Deck 3, 401 – 20th St. North
• Parking Deck 4, 2128 – Fourth Ave. North
• Parking Deck 5, 2012 – Fifth Ave. North
• Parking Deck 6, 2010 – Second Ave. North
• Parking Deck 7, 509 – 17th St. North
• Parking Deck 8, 2021 – Third Ave. South
After receiving public backlash from representatives of furloughed library employees and Birmingham residents at the Sep. 29 city council meeting, Woodfin said the sale could be used to support neighborhoods and re-hire city employees.
“I stood in front of you, on the night the budget was passed, and I promised this council that I would do everything I could to bring employees back,” Woodfin said.
Woodfin said the immediate benefits from this business exchange with Economic Development Partners LLC could help the city bounce back from the pandemic.
“The $40 million would be paid in a lump sum, which would take a century to generate from the proposed parking decks’ $400,000 annual revenue, will be used to pump money back into neighborhood revitalization, social services, and retaining city employees,” Woodfin said.
Economic Development Partners LLC’s offer to purchase these properties was unsolicited by the city, but Josh Carpenter, of the Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, said parking is crucial for business downtown.
“Having downtown parking is an important asset of economic growth and development, historically, but because of the pandemic and the at-home environment, the city’s opportunity for profit is sound,” Carpenter said.
After a meeting with the mayor last Friday, the Birmingham Parking Authority board has been meeting to respond to the city council’s requests for the $3.2 million salary and position information for the city’s 71 employees at the 11 parking decks, according to Morgan Battle, an attorney for the Birmingham Parking Authority.
“I don’t think the parking authority will be the same after the decision [to sell the decks] is made,” Battle said. “The board that I represent is worried about there being enough capital to support the BPA.”
Addressing the mayor’s previous statement on the $400,000 annual revenue of the parking decks, Battle said the actual amount for this year’s parking deck revenue, is $1.6 million.
Woodfin said the BPA employees should not be worrying about their jobs, regarding the sale, citing the buyer’s intention keep the current employees.
“When we consider the emotional aspect and the human capital, no employees’ jobs are in jeopardy. I repeat, no employees’ jobs are in jeopardy,” Woodfin said.
Councilman Darrel O’Quinn said he supports the mayor’s initiative to invest in using prospective funds from the sale to develop the public transportation infrastructure for the city’s residents, some of whom do not own cars.
“I too want to see the city getting the best possible value off of the sale of the parking decks,” O’Quinn said.
Edited by Hannah Warren, Ryan Michaels & John H. Glenn