Downtown parking deck work to begin in August

An early rendering shows what preliminary designs predict the new parking deck could look like at the corner of Spring Street and School Avenue.

Courtesy, City of Fayetteville

Work on a long-planned parking deck should begin next month in downtown Fayetteville.

City Council members on Tuesday approved a contract for demolition of the Walton Arts Center administrative offices and for excavation work at Spring Street and School Avenue where the 245-space deck will be constructed.

Jeremy Pate, the city’s Development Services director who was appointed as the new project manager for the parking deck, said the low bid for the work was $180,000 less than the original estimate.

The savings will go toward a budget shortfall identified in April after Baldwin & Shell, the construction manager for the project, estimated overall cost of the deck to be about $8.7 million – or $1.9 million more than what city officials estimated in 2012 before preliminary designs had begun.

Pate said the parking deck design team has identified about $800,000 more that can be saved by reducing the size of a rainwater harvesting tank, redesigning a pipe system, removing some bank shoring and underpinning, and modifying the deck’s electrical system.

The savings won’t be enough to cover the money needed to finish the deck, but the city will receive $1.5 million that it could put toward the project when the Walton Arts Center returns the city’s endowment investment as part of governance changes approved earlier this month.

It will be up to the City Council to decide whether to use some – or all – of the Walton Arts Center’s returned money to cover the deficit.

Pate said a crew with CoBar Contracting of North Little Rock would likely begin tearing down the Walton Arts Center offices the first week in August, with the excavation work coming about a week or two later.

Arts center staff recently moved to a temporary home across West Avenue inside the Metro District Building. Their new offices are part of the parking deck design, and will be located on the north side of the deck along School Avenue.

Pate said once work begins, he expects construction to take a little less than a year to complete.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said Tuesday he’s happy to see work finally set to begin after years of discussion and planning.

“We’re off and running here,” said Jordan. “We have turned a corner.”