The city has condemned the Gables Building parking lot for security reasons, heightening the threat of a downtown parking shortage.
The shutdown came earlier this month after a complaint led to a codes department inspection that revealed a host of issues, according to department director Rebecca Brown.
A planned parking study is “even more important” now, said Sherri McGregor, president of the Altoona Parking Authority.
Numerous cracks in the concrete beams that support the Gables Garage’s deck panels have caused further deterioration of the beams, and there is significant spalling of the concrete from the panels and numerous exposed steel rebars, Brown said. , citing the inspector’s report.
The sentencing earlier this month led to the transfer of 48 vehicles that had been using the Gables garage to the garage at the nearby city transportation center – with a temporary reservation of 12 additional spaces, according to Vickie Chilcote, office manager of the Parking Authority.
Those 12 remaining spaces — which would become open to the general public for monthly rentals if former Gables occupants are not interested — represent the final 12 available for monthly rent in the Transportation Center garage, according to Chilcote.
There are also 14 spaces available in the surface lot behind Altoona Cardiology Associates and a few on the 10th Avenue Freeway near 11th Street, according to Chilcote.
Additionally, there are three-hour visitor spaces available behind the new Curry building and two-hour spaces on the avenues, McGregor said.
The city ordered Gables owner DSD Investors LLC of Upper Darby to hire a structural engineer to analyze the Gables garage and provide a report to the city with a chart of needed repairs, Brown said.
“The goal here is just to get that report and go from there,” said Brown.
The company, however, had difficulty finding a structural engineer to perform the task and requested an extension of time, according to the company’s manager, Brown said.
Brown doesn’t know if the company intends to repair the garage or how much it might cost, she said.
The city’s recent inspection showed that workers had already patched holes in the Gables garage, fastened heavy netting to the first-floor ceiling, installed wooden cribwork under the second-floor deck, and applied shotcrete in spots, Brown said.
As far as she knows, the condemnation of the garage will not affect the use of the rest of the Gables building, Brown said.
The garage has five floors, including a roof.
The lowest floor is accessible from a driveway connecting 11th and 12th Avenues, while the upper floor is accessible from the 1100 block of 13th Street and the remaining floors are accessible from the 1300 block of 12th Avenue.
The city has affixed yellow warning tape to all entrances.
“As we see how it unfolds, we will know more,” said McGregor.
Ongoing downtown revitalization has created pressure for more parking, though the upcoming summer break for Penn State Altooona should relieve some of that pressure.
The RFP for the Parking Study calls for a review of the 7th to 18th Street and 10th to 14th Avenue area.
The budget for the study is $40,000.
The study consultant must complete within six months.
This study “comes at a good time” said McGregor.
The transport center garage has 230 spaces.
The Gables Garage has about 100 spaces, officials said.
The DSD director spoke briefly to a reporter on Monday, suggested the matter could be discussed later, but did not call back after that.
The Mirror’s staff writer, William Kibler, is at 814-949-7038.