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Biddeford car park has yet to meet expectations

The city says this is mainly due to slower-than-expected development caused by the pandemic and the economy.

BIDDEFORD, Maine – In July of last year, a new parking lot opened in downtown Biddeford.

Proponents of the garage argued at the time that the structure was necessary if the city was to continue to grow. But, more than a year later, the Pearl Street Parking Garage is not living up to expectations.

“Garage revenue is down about $16,000 to $28,000 a month,” said Brian Phinney, Biddeford’s chief operating officer.

Biddeford made a deal with Amber Infrastructure, which owns the garage, to pay him a minimum annual income, according to Phinney.

Phinney added that the city expected developments to occur soon after the parking lot was built that would bring people to the area and the garage. However, these developments are still under construction.

“The problem that everyone had for the last two years was obviously COVID and now the economy,” Phinney explained. “That puts things a bit behind schedule.”

For this reason, Biddeford City Council is considering creating a special assessment area to compensate for the loss of revenue. This could require owners near the garage to pay an additional tax.

“A special assessment area is potentially a tool that council could have,” said Biddeford Councilor Martin Grohman. “That doesn’t mean we would use it.”

Since the nearby Lincoln Hotel opened, Grohman said demand for the garage has increased over the past 8 weeks.

“The corner is already being turned here in a very big way,” Grohman added.

Biddeford City Council is expected to seek public comment on the Special Assessment Area at its next Policy Committee meeting on Wednesday December 14.

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Deena S. Hawkins

The author Deena S. Hawkins