A mixed-use parking garage for Downtown Waynesboro?

Standing in Downtown Waynesboro at the crosswalk in front of the Coiner-Quesenbery house, looking around at the row of buildings across the street, gives one the impression that you are in a town somewhere in the Wild West.

It’s an eclectic mix of structures built at various times with a tad touch of quirkiness. A long time goal for the city and its residents is to prove that downtown is a place to go, instead of a place to go through. The Natural History Museum planned on the Advance parking lot will heavily reduce the number of surface parking that is available downtown. Also with the opening of the Wayne Theatre, and how packed Green Leaf Grill and Heritage on Main is on a Friday night, we come to the typical issue of parking.

Every community that is growing its downtown eventually comes to the need for a vertical parking garage, but where is a good place to locate one in Downtown Waynesboro? Two sites within the core come to mind. The first site is from the old Leggett’s building to the corner of West Main Street and Arch Avenue. This site has already been discussed for a multi-story mixed-use parking garage but would require the loss of two older buildings.

GaragelocationoutlinedIt has been decided to restore the Leggett’s building by cutting new windows, rehabilitating the inside and remodeling the façade of the structure. The other site (and I would argue that it would the more appropriate site) would be combining the building of the Porsche dealership and the two surface parking lots between that building and Augusta Cleaners (see image).

With the Porsche dealership building having a 20-foot setback from the sidewalk of West Main Street, it’s not in line with the rest of the downtown structures and doesn’t appear to help the walkability of downtown. It has no architectural or historic significance since it is built like a suburban store you would find on the west end. Perfect for a new mixed-use parking garage. The first floor should be retail shops in line with the LB&B building and as the site starts to go uphill, the entrance to the parking should be beside the Augusta Cleaners to access the second floor. Floors two, three, four should be for parking, and floors 5 and (possibly 6) should be for apartments.

The building should look as neo-classical as possible to appear to be of historic compatibility with the rest of downtown. Some examples would be the Athens-Clarke County parking and mixed use building in Georgia (see image). Looking to our own neighbors of Staunton, another example would be their garage on New Street. Although the New Street garage is only just for parking instead of being mixed-use, the façade on the New Street side appears to be several buildings at once, making it look like a row of historic structures (see image New Street facade).

This is a big project that would more than likely require some help from the city. In order to keep the parking garage free to use, the city could be partner with a developer, or offer tax incentives to a developer. The city already owns the surface parking lot beside the Augusta Cleaners; perhaps it could purchase the second parking lot and the Porsche building and gift the site to a developer, or the second parking lot in the middle could be acquired and then a joint venture with the owner of the Porsche shop be created resulting in the Porsche show room as one of the tenants in the bottom floor of retail. Some creative financing would have to take place because the city cannot allocate bond money; the new high school project coming up will put the city’s borrowing to the max.

However a project like this could be funded, I look forward to the possibility that one day Downtown Waynesboro will finally see some new construction that doesn’t take away from the current mix of buildings. If you like this proposal, pledge your support by letting city council know and maybe it can be a reality within 15 years.

Column by Blake Lam

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