After months of legal wrangling, the city and PARTA agreed on a lease and construction partnership for the $26 million Kent Central Gateway transit center.
Kent City Council members voted to approve both agreements during a committee meeting last week. The approval came just two days after the groundbreaking for the transit center.
And, as expected, users will have to pay to use any of the estimated 360 public parking spaces that will be available in the garage.
"We have to charge for the deck," Kent City Engineer Jim Bowling said. "It’s an expense that’s several hundred thousand dollars a year to maintain and manage. And neither PARTA nor the city can take on those expenses on their own."
The parking operation will be fully automatic. Drivers will pull up to the entrance gate and receive a ticket. When leaving, drivers will insert the ticket into a machine and can pay with cash or credit cards. No one will man the parking deck, but PARTA will have staff on-site managing ticket sales and other aspects of the bus transfer center.
Plans show about 360 total parking spaces will be available to the public in the deck.
"That number fluctuates up and down," Bowling said. "It’s right about 360 now. We don’t see that changing."
The construction agreement spells out the size of the facility's different elements and how it will coordinate with streetscape work on Erie Street.
The 10 bus bays and 360 parking spaces will be bolstered by covered bike lockers, bike racks incorporated into the street improvements, public restrooms, a 2,000-square-foot transit area, 15,000 square feet of first-floor retail space on Erie Street and 11,000 square feet of office space on the second floor. A conference room available for public use also will be located on the second floor.
The city will pay $4 million as part of the agreement with PARTA to build the upper two floors of parking.
There is potential for the city to earn revenue from the deck's operation.
Bowling said any excess income after management and maintenance of the deck is paid for will go into a reserve fund. In the future, that fund will reimburse the city or PARTA for any necessary or unexpected major improvements or repairs. Once all those debts are paid, leftover revenue in the fund would be split with 20 percent going to the city and 80 percent to PARTA for the first $100,000.
Bryan Smith, planning director for PARTA, said they are hopeful Greyhound will have some interest in using the Kent Central Gateway as a hub after it opens late next year.
"That's why we have 10 bus bays," Smith said. "We are interested in having them come here. Whether or not they’ll come here is not under my control."