Pompano throwing party to celebrate its ‘iconic’ first parking garage
The city hopes to make a splash Thursday with the debut of its first public parking garage –- using fireworks and tribute band music to hail the beachside project.
The building features 669 spaces, LED-lit sails, a three-story mural of a colorful fish and a glass elevator overlooking the ocean.
“We were looking at it as an iconic structure for the city,” said Sandra King, city spokeswoman. “Our commissioners received a lot of questions and grief because they wanted to make it aesthetically pleasing … and now that people are finally seeing the end product, the comments are flooding in about how amazing and iconic this is.”
The garage – the first new bricks-and-mortar project completed since beachside improvements began three years ago – is thought to be a key component of redefining Pompano Beach’s oceanside as an upscale destination.
The city’s first tourism office will be here. And there are plans to build 48,000 square feet of retail space — restaurants and shops, or retail and a hotel – next to the pier.
So far, the garage has cost $19.3 million. And the city could spend as much as $24 million on the entire effort, which will also include a new street and a traffic light.
But the effort has not been without controversy because of its cost.
Florida Atlantic University just opened a 1,000-space parking garage for $10 million, said Tom Terwilliger, who is running for city commission.
“The waste in this city is terrible,” he said.
And so far, none of the six retail spaces in the new garage have been rented.
Tim Hernandez, of Pompano Pier Associates, which is developing the beachside project, said two restaurants have committed to opening near the pier.
“We all want it to happen faster, but there’s a major, regulatory process you have to go through to build anything, especially on the beach,” he said.
City officials believe the beachside’s increasing parking revenues point to more interest in the area, even without the shops. Parking revenues have risen 75 percent – from $900,000 to $2.1 million – between 2011 and 2015.
Anticipating even more demand for parking, the commission has approved new meters on other streets in the city’s eastern corridor.
Carmine T. Uozzo, who has lived on the beachside for eight years, said it’s not easy to find parking on the weekends.
“They come with their tents, their barbecue equipment, speaking English, Spanish, Portuguese,” said the retired educator, 79. “The new garage is going to open the beach to everyone, not just the people who live here.”
The celebration, open to the public, starts at 11 a.m. and includes a tour of the new facility. At 7 p.m., there will be food trucks, music and then fireworks at sunset.