By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
The City of Birmingham might have found a solution to its projected $63 million revenue shortfall in the fiscal 2020-21 budget that caused employee layoffs and salary reductions – a $40 million sale of the city-owned parking decks.
Birmingham Economic Development Partners, LLC, a consortium of private investors is looking to purchase the city’s parking decks that are currently managed by the Birmingham Parking Authority.
“We have an unsolicited offer made to the city of Birmingham to purchase six of 11 parking decks managed by the Parking Authority above market value for about $40 million,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin Thursday evening.
“When I consider the issues that currently exist short-term and long term related to our employees, getting our libraries back open and I consider neighborhood revitalization and infrastructure issues, social services that that we’re concerned about and want to invest in, this $40 million plus presents a unique opportunity to make the investments that our residents care about.”
The decks being considered for sale are located at:
401 N 20th St.
2128 Fourth Ave. N
2012 Fifth Ave. N
2010 Second Ave. N
509 N 17th St.
2021 Third Ave. S
“They [the buyers] are going to keep these as parking decks and are willing to make the necessary upgrades to make them top of the line for those who need them and use them and they plan to retain the employees,” said Woodfin.
Currently, the city only receives about $1 million in revenue from the BPA, with $600,000 of that going back to the parking authority for city employee parking, said Woodfin.
The money would be a huge investment for the city’s 99 neighborhoods, the mayor said.
“I think the really important thing for me is to look the residents in the face and say which one do you want,” said Woodfin. “Do you want this $40 million to support what is important to you such as neighborhood revitalization and bringing our employees and libraries back or do you want to continue to generate $1 million a year which $600,000 we give back to the parking authority every year.”
Woodfin added, “Often there is a lot of conversation about the City of Birmingham making too many investments into the city center, well, this will allow us to make investments into the other 98 neighborhoods,” he said. “This sale allows us to invest in those 98 neighborhoods. That is why I believe it is important to us.”
According to the Birmingham Business Journal, the buyer is willing to put down $500,000 in earnest money as soon as the city council approves the agreement, which would allow the city to address some of the issues created by the revenue shortfall caused by COVID-19.
This matter could possibly go before the Birmingham City Council as early as next week, said Woodfin.
Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who is on the council’s Transportation Committee, said a committee of the whole meeting could be set up next week to discuss the sale.
“We have a $63 million revenue shortfall so the city is definitely experiencing some hardships, and we have had to furlough employees, so we definitely have a need for some additional revenue,” said O’Quinn.