Conceptual square design, without underground parking. (City of White Rock image)

Conceptual square design, without underground parking. (City of White Rock image)

Underground parking uptown costly: White Rock city staff

Site of future Town Square expropriated for $4.86 million

A city staff report on the new ‘Town Square’ property in uptown White Rock recommends against building underground parking.

The property at 1510 Johnston Rd. – long vacant but the site of a former Imperial Oil service station – was expropriated by the city in April for close to $5 million with the avowed intention of creating a Town Square at the corner of Johnston Road and Russell Avenue, adjacent to the Coast Capital Playhouse.

(Monday, city communications manager Farnaz Farrokhi confirmed for Peace Arch News that the price paid by the city for the land alone was $4,868,100.)

At its July 9 meeting, council had unanimously endorsed a motion from Coun. David Chesney for city staff to prepare a business case for building underground parking at the site, as a way of addressing the ever-increasing need for parking in the uptown core.

But a report from city engineer Jim Gordon and planning and development services director Carl Johannsen, received at the Sept. 17 meeting, recommends against what they consider a “cost-prohibitive” venture.

The report – drawing on work by Core Project Management, the same consultants employed by the city for the planned waterfront parkade – includes designs and cost estimates for three parking-structure options, along with a virtual tour that provided multiple suggestions of what the town square could become, both with and without underground parking.

The report told council that vehicle ramps and elevator/stairwell structures for such a parkade – which would need an exit and entrance off Russell Avenue – would take up much of the available town square space, and would likely eliminate opportunities to integrate the town square with properties to the east and north.

On the bottom line, it says, underground parking would cost $4.8-11.6 million, providing 33 stalls for a one-level parkade and 98 stall for a three-level parkade. This would mean a cost per stall of $118,400-145,400, compared with around $56,300 per stall at the waterfront parkade, currently under construction at the corner of Vidal Street and Victoria Avenue.

“I think the point to note is that, to build a parkade here would probably be twice as expensive per stall as the waterfront parkade,” Gordon told council.

“One of the main reasons for that is it’s a small site – the waterfront parkade is 70 per cent bigger, that leads to a lot of efficiency when you’re laying out a parkade . Also, when you’re going down into the ground it’s more costly, there’s more shoring, more work to do, plus we would have to remove the material that’s on-site and that’s potentially contaminated from the gas station.”