Bell Blvd BID explores possible parking garage

By Sarina Trangle

At $21,000 a space, parking garages come at a premium far above the average $3,000-per-slot surface lot, but one urban planning expert told the Bayside Village BID it just might be worth it.

Jocelyn Wenk, who compiles information about suburban design for the Long Island-based think tank The Rauch Foundation, gave the headlining talk at the business improvement district’s annual meeting Monday evening.

Close to 30 people crowded into C.J. Sullivan’s to hash out the business improvement district’s accomplishments and goals, elect a new board of directors and hear Wenk discuss successful parking facilities.

City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) earmarked $20,000 from the city budget for financing a feasibility study into transforming the municipal lot near 41st Avenue and 214th Place into a multi-level structure.

“Parking garages have a bad reputation,” Wenk said, while flipping through slides of modern structures across the globe, some featuring artistic architecture, meticulously selected stained glass and verdant walls of greenery. “You pay a premium for good design, but it’s worth it.”

Wenk said parking garages tend to be more noticeable than surface lots and require less space, which has helped municipalities develop economically viable projects by moving from flat parking facilities to multi-story structures.

Garages also take traffic off the street by providing an alternative to those circling in search of parking, Wenk said.

But they come at a steep price.

Constructing garages in the metro area costs about $21,000 per spot, compared to $3,000 per space in surface lots, according to Wenk.

At that rate, she said a 500-space garage would need to charge about $150 for monthly passes or $7.50 in daily fees.

Dominick Bruccoleri, the BID chairman, noted that exploring expanding parking at the municipal lot was a high priority for the organization because commuters tend to gobble up spaces near the Bayside Long Island Rail Road station and the shortage leads potential shoppers to Long Island.

He said the Business Improvement District, which represents about 400 businesses and property owners clustered along Bell Boulevard between Northern Boulevard and 41st Avenue, was considering having a design competition, should the study find the parking garage plan feasible.

Many in the crowd said that idea appealed to them, but some voiced concerns about whether commuters would choose to pay to use a parking garage when there is free street parking in nearby blocks.

On another front, BID Executive Director Lyle Sclair said next year the organization hopes to expand its free graffiti cleanup program, organize a food-crawl through local restaurants and spruce up the land between Sullivan’s and the LIRR station.

Sclair said the BID had entered into a lease for the property about a month ago and issued requests for proposals to maintain and improve it. He said this would allow the BID to host holiday celebrations and other events without going through the permit process.

BID members voted in a new board of directors, including Eric Belanich, from Bell Realty; Gerry Biordi, from East Coast Realty; Mark Boccia, from Bourbon Street; Dominick Bruccoleri, from Papazzio; Pat Perulli, from Bayside Milk Farm; James Riso, from Briarwood Organization; Terry Triades and Meri Tridades, from Triades & Triades; Ed Teran, from American Vision Center; David Lilienthal, from Edward Jones; and local resident Mitchell Catanzano.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.