Design distinctions: Devil in details when it comes to final cost for Marlins parking facilities
By Risa Polansky
The cost of parking facilities at a new Marlins ballpark cannot be pinned down until official designs are complete.
But there's a $62 million difference between what a City of Miami official and hired consultants project.
City Manager Pete Hernandez says 6,000 parking spaces can be provided for about $94 million, the same total city staffers named early this year in seeking elected officials' approval of a preliminary stadium agreement.
They shopped the agreement to commissioners using the $94 million total months after the Miami Parking Authority projected a 6,000 car garage would cost $150 million.
More recently, consultants hired by the city are anticipating that offering 6,000 spaces along with retail would cost $156 million, according to a report by Jones Lang LaSalle, which also includes parking options prepared by parking consultant TimHaahs.
"As far as the price or the cost, I think that they're on the conservative side" in providing an estimate potentially higher than the actual cost, Mr. Hernandez said. "We were probably a bit too low on ours. But it's still too early."
He said he thinks parking can be built for around $94 million, perhaps with some contingency built into the construction contract.
Officials arrived at the $94 million number "on the basis of other garages that have been constructed locally at a much lower cost per space," Mr. Hernandez said.
City Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring said in an e-mail that the total is "based on comparable cost-to-build figures obtained from research performed at the time" the baseball stadium agreement was being negotiated.
Miami Parking Authority Chief Executive Officer Arthur Noriega said there's no general rule for determining a garage's cost per space, nor can one garage be compared to another if the concepts differ.
Cost depends on design, he said, taking into account both aesthetics and efficiency.
"It all depends on what it's going to look like," as well as how quickly people need to get in and out, he said.
The preliminary baseball agreement with the Marlins requires a 40-minute maximum empty time.
"The mechanics of the garage are going to be pretty significant," Mr. Noriega said.
As will its exterior appearance.
"If it's going to look as nice as the stadium is going to look, and I think it might have to… that's the challenge," he said. "If you want the garage to look nice, then it's going to cost a little more."
Mr. Hernandez said the garage can't look "totally plain," as it must be compatible with the new stadium and surrounding area.
The parking authority prepared cost projections on behalf of the city in 2007, which Jones Lang LaSalle included in its report this summer.
The authority's rundown dated Oct. 25, 2007, estimates a $25,000 cost-per-space — a total capital cost of $150 million for a 6,000-space garage.
Still, the baseball agreement commissioners ratified nearly four months later names the $94 million price.
The agreement also stipulates rent payments from the team.
At the time, city officials including Manager Hernandez and CFO Spring said a 6,000-spot garage would pay for itself.
Payments from the Marlins laid out in the baseball agreement are expected to be sufficient to "service the debt, to handle the operating expenses and to put money into an account for capital repairs," Mr. Hernandez said in February.
He said this week, however, that "our plan was to provide a certain amount of CDT [Convention Development Tax], maybe half of the cost of the facilities… and the rest of it would be paid back through the agreement with the Marlins."
But the parking authority's 2007 projections estimated a 6,000-car garage would net the city an annual loss of nearly $8.3 million.
That estimate, calculated before the Marlins agreed to space-rental payments, is based on generating about $4.9 million in annual revenue from the team.
However, the actual agreement with the Marlins approved by city commissioners months later is to generate about $4.65 million annually for Miami, meaning the city could lose more than the parking authority predicted.
But those projections were also based on operating expenses such as how much it would cost to pay parking attendants per game, which could change depending on how the city configures the stadium parking.
Now, the plan may be to build three garages with a retail component, as well as some surface spaces, an option created by parking consultant TimHaahs.
In June, Mr. Hernandez chose that plan from a selection of three, according to the Jones Lang LaSalle report.
The only parking scenario offered that came in under $100 million would have cut the number of parking spaces from 6,000 to 4,765.
The other would have cost the city $171 million to provide 6,240 spots, plus the cost of retail liners.
Mr. Hernandez instead directed consultants to proceed with a three-garage, $156 million option, the report shows.
If finalized as-is, the plan would be to build three garages providing 5,054 spaces and surface lots providing 950 spots, as well as $14 million worth of retail.
Streetscape and infrastructure included, the cost rises to $163 million. Add a residential component, and the total would hit $185 million, according to the report.
Whatever the city ends up paying for the garage, that number is on top of the $13 million in Convention Development Tax dollars it has committed to the $515 million stadium deal.
Detailed plans for the stadium remain in flux — not only a final parking design, but also construction, management and other agreements that were supposed to have been approved by this summer.
Mr. Hernandez said he's sticking to the $94 million parking estimate, but noted that already much has changed for the stadium, between a lawsuit and unstable economy.
"Those are factors that you have to consider as you go."