Downtown garage revenues exceed projections

Posted at 7:29 PM, Sep 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-16 19:29:28-04

CINCINNATI – The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority has collected nearly half a million dollars in revenue from a parking garage it now operates in the downtown central business district – more than it had budgeted.

These are the first numbers reported by the agency after it reopened the facility following months of renovation.

Port authority officials said Wednesday the 396-space Fountain Square South Garage, underneath the Westin Hotel and US Bank Tower at 416 Vine St., generated $433,800 in parking revenues during a three-month period from May to July. The port authority entered a 30-year lease with the City of Cincinnati for the facility in 2014 and will use net proceeds to initiate economic development projects within the city.

The port authority had originally budgeted $412,500 for parking revenues. Rick Hudson, director of accounting and financial management for the port authority, said August numbers were also in line with the monthly averages reported so far. He predicted year-end collections could top $1.1 million.

"So (far) we are $21,000 or about 5 percent favorable to plan," Hudson said.

Forty-six percent of parking revenues came from monthly users while the remaining came from transient traffic – the garage is located just blocks from Paul Brown Stadium, Great American Ball Park and the Aronoff Center.

Parking fees did increase post-renovation. Monthly access is now $205. Laura Brunner, port authority president and CEO, said some users who were relocated during the construction period have not returned. More money is made on the transient traffic, but it's too early to tell if the current percentages would hold.

"I don't know if we can say where it is right now, that ratio is where it will remain," Brunner said.

Operating expenses for the Fountain Square South Garage totaled $163,000 for the three-month period. That was also better than budgeted, Hudson said.

The garage lease was a first for the port authority when approved last year and was considered a consolation after the agency didn't receive $6 million in annual funding promised by past city leaders. Cincinnati officials had said providing those monies would have required significant cuts elsewhere.

The garage, meanwhile, could potentially generate $1 million annually in net revenue; the port would use the funds to implement economic development projects in the city. Per the lease agreement, the agency must spend at least $6 million from the garage proceeds on various job-creating projects.

The agency spent just shy of $1.3 million to correct years of deferred maintenance, making structural repairs, waterproofing and upgrading concrete drive surfaces. The garage was closed for those improvements from January to April. The renovation funds are being amortized over the 30-year lease.

Port authority officials estimated they'll clear roughly $100,000 from the garage this year.

"Obviously $100,000 isn't especially significant, but as that grows, that's the goal, to have additional funds for capital investment," Brunner said. "It was a significant grant to us."