By Courtney L. Saylor
Herald Staff Writer
As downtown Sharon’s facelift gets under way this spring, the rundown parking garage will get an overhaul as well.
Last week the city advertised for contractors to bid on the job to renovate the garage at Vine and Pitt Streets. Bids are due by Feb. 14.
The garage is sparsely used and in disrepair and a $531,000 grant will be used to fix it up. The money was originally earmarked to build a pedestrian bridge across the Shenango River.
Officials in 2010 announced the plan to rehab the garage, which was controversial when it was built in the mid-1970s. It opened in 1976 and has been trashed by vandals and undermaintained in years past.
The update of the garage is tied to several other grants and projects and had to be done to get those off the ground, officials have said. Upgrades will include new lighting, surfacing, handicap-accessible restrooms and entrances and security features.
City leaders looked at alternatives, including tearing the garage down; doing that has a price tag of $750,000. They also considered disassembling it in pieces and moving it, but engineers said it wasn’t feasible.
It cost the city about $2 million to buy the land and build the garage in 1974 and after a bond refinancing in 1994 officials said the total interest and principal would be about $6 million by 2014, when it was supposed to be paid off.
In 2002, the bonds that paid for the garage were rolled in with others taken out over the years and the city still owes $5 million on that debt.
Those bonds will mature in 2026, Andrejchak said, and are capital appreciation bonds that cannot be refinanced again.