Lexington downtown parking garage to be demolished

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Mayor Jim Gray today announced that the city will demolish the upper deck of the Phoenix Parking Garage on Vine Street.

The garage was temporarily closed May 8 after a 28-foot long concrete panel fell from the upper deck onto the Vine Street sidewalk below. It reopened May 11 after an evaluation by a structural engineer reported that the problem was isolated to one steel beam. On Oct. 4 new engineering reports recommended additional evaluation. It has been closed since then while evaluations continued.

“Four structural engineering firms have examined this garage and all have come to the same conclusion: leaving the garage open is dangerous for anyone who parks there or uses the sidewalks surrounding it,” Gray said.

Lexington’s downtown parking garages came under sharp scrutiny in May 2006 when 22-year-old Stephanie Hufnagel, eight months pregnant, was struck by a concrete panel that fell from the privately-owned Chase Parking garage on Main, fatally crushing her and her unborn child. Lawsuits brought by her family were settled in 2008.

The 150-space city-owned Phoenix garage, located on Vine Street, serves employees of the City, the Property Valuation Administrator and local businesses. City workers will move to the Transit Center Garage, the Annex Garage, or the Courthouse garage, which is already often at capacity during peak weekday periods.

The 1966-constructed Annex garage on Main with the spiral/helix exit ramp (serving city employees, along with visitors to LFUCG, the Kentucky Theatre, and the circuit clerk/DMV) was rated in Fair to Poor condition according to the Herald-Leader, which submitted an open records request for  the November 2010 Desman Associates report provided to LFUCG in January 2011.

Gray said the city has asked the Lexington Parking Authority to evaluate the condition of all six city-owned parking garages, including the Phoenix Garage. The review began at the end of September and is expected to take 10 weeks.

The Parking Authority was created by the Urban County Council in 2005. It contracts with the city to provide, maintain and operate public parking downtown.

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