Visitors to the Lexington police headquarters and the Fayette County clerk's office will no longer get discounted parking when downtown's busiest parking garage reopens Monday, and parking on nights and weekends will no longer be free.
The Annex Garage at 150 East Main Street — which has been renamed the Helix Garage for its spiraling exit ramp — has been closed since November while construction crews completed a $3.1 million restoration project.
The parking authority said in a news release Tuesday that the garage will reopen May 6 under the new name. The release listed several changes, including facade and structural repairs, brighter lighting, computerized gates and payment terminals, and digital signs that display how many spaces are available.
The news release also gave notice that the police department and the county clerk's office will no longer validate parking, partially because of the change from paper tickets to recyclable tokens and computerized payment systems.
Previously, employees would stamp paper tickets, and a parking attendant would apply the discount.
Gary Means, executive director of the parking authority, said the change also was intended to encourage residents to do business online or by mail rather than filling up the garage. The garage serves hundreds of visitors a day who need to do business at the police department and clerk's office.
"Freeing up parking is most of the motivation," he said. "We hope that people would choose to go online."
Police reports for many minor offenses can be submitted online, and various clerk services — including renewing vehicle registration, checking voter registration and requesting a copy of a marriage license — can be done online or by mail.
A 50 percent discount will be available for motorists who visit the Urban County Government Center at 200 East Main Street or the Phoenix Building at 101 East Vine Street.
Means also said parking will no longer be free on nights and weekends. Parking after 5 p.m. weekdays and on Saturdays and Sundays will cost $3, but visitors can use the garage for as long as they want for that fee.
"The whole era of free parking was going away anyway," Means said.
Parking during the workday costs $1 per half-hour.
The parking authority said the restoration will extend the life of the Helix garage about 20 years. The 45-year-old garage was plagued by crumbling concrete and rusted support steel.
More than 80 truckloads of concrete and 48 tons of steel have gone into the project, the news release said. The metal poles that seemed to be propping up the exit ramp are gone.
The Helix was in the worst condition of any of the downtown parking garages that were, until recently, owned and maintained by the city. In July, ownership was transferred to the self-financed Lexington Fayette County Parking Authority.