Lexington's busiest downtown parking garage will be closed for several months during a $3.1 million restoration project, the Lexington Parking Authority announced Friday.
Repairs at the aging Annex garage, on Main Street between the Fayette County clerk's office and Lexington police headquarters, are scheduled to begin Aug. 20.
To minimize inconvenience, the lower floors of the garage will stay open until the fall. In November, the entire facility will close for about five months. It will reopen in late spring, the announcement said.
The repairs are expected to add 18 to 20 years to the life of the 45-year-old structure, said Gary Means, executive director of the parking authority.
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The Annex garage, 150 East Main Street, is the busiest of four garages owned or managed by the parking authority, a quasi-governmental organization that is self-funded through parking fees and fines.
On average, more than 1,000 people a day pass through the garage at the beginning and end of each month, when many people visit the county clerk's office to renew their license plate tags or driver's licenses.
Finding parking for the hundreds of people who use the garage each day will take some creative restructuring, officials said.
"We know this construction will be inconvenient, but it's worth it to make this facility safer and extend its life," parking authority board chairman James H. Frazier III said in the release.
While the garage is closed, people may park at the Courthouse Garage, 105 Barr Street, or the Transit Center Garage, which has entrances at 170 East Vine Street and 129-201 East High Street.
Meanwhile, 100 or so people who have reserved spaces in the Annex garage will be relocated next door, to the parking garage at the Lexington Public Library. The library runs its own parking garage and has agreed to lend the spaces to the parking authority, Means said.
Designated parking spaces in the Annex garage, such as those assigned for road tests and vehicle inspections, will be relocated to Water Street or the Phoenix parking lot, behind the Annex, he said.
"As a last resort, we can reserve some of the metered spaces on Main Street," Means said.
The Annex is one of three parking garages downtown that were owned by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government until earlier this year.
Ownership of the Annex, the Transit Center and Victorian Square garages was transferred to the parking authority effective July 1, Means said. The government's goal in giving up control of the garages was to put them in the hands of an entity that could fund renovations, officials have said.
The $3.1 million needed to repair the Annex garage will be secured by the parking authority from fees and fines people pay to park downtown. No taxpayer money will be used, Means said.
The Annex garage was built in 1966 and has been rated in "fair to poor" condition by consultants hired by the city. Visitors to the garage have expressed concern about its cracked and crumbling facade, exposed rebar, and metal poles that appear to be holding up the exit ramp.
"We look forward to reopening a safe and secure parking facility as soon as possible," Means said.