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Council President: More time needed to discuss $40M sale of Birmingham parking decks

Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

The Birmingham City Council will “explore all options” before deciding whether to sell six city-owned parking decks for $40 million, said Council President William Parker on Tuesday.

Mayor Randall Woodfin announced last week the city received the unsolicited offer to sell the decks, which he favored.

However, a number of concerns have since been raised including one from a Birmingham Parking Authority (BPA) member who said the plan to sell was “short-sighted.”

Parker said the council won’t decide until a series of steps are taken.

“We’ll be submitting questions to the parking authority and to the mayor’s office for additional information but also making sure that we seek community engagement moving forward,” Parker said. “It was an offer that was presented to the mayor and we have a responsibility to do our due diligence . . . we want to make sure we seek a lot of input and see if there are other options out there.”

Due diligence means hosting various town hall meetings “whether it is by Zoom or a Tele Town Hall, gathering information,” Parker said, “. . . We want to explore any and all options like we do with any potential project. I think you will see over the next couple of weeks community engagement where we communicate with city officials and citizens throughout… I think this will require a lot of input from a lot of different people”

The BPA has already signaled its likely opposition to the deal. Board member Dora Sims said the agency has efficiently operated municipal owned parking decks and lots over the last 48 years.

“It is our belief that an outright sale is short-sighted and does not provide consideration for an improved financial economy climate, such as parking for the World Games [in 2022], tourist events and downtown economic development in a post pandemic environment,” said Sims in the statement.

The BPA Board said it is committed to protecting affordable parking downtown and ensuring that the 70 people employed by the BPA retain their jobs.

“Our greatest concern as a Board is to support our employees who work daily to ensure the taxpayers, tourists and business owners who lease from us have safe, accessible, affordable convenient parking,” said Sims.

Woodfin said an agreement with Birmingham Economic Development Partners LLC, headed up by Shipt founder Bill Smith, would be a huge investment for the city’s 99 neighborhoods and help close a $63 million shortfall in the city’s budget.

“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,” he said.

The decks being considered for sale are 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