City calls for bids to demolish parkade

An aerial photo shows the section of the Front Street parkade that will be demolished.  - PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
An aerial photo shows the section of the Front Street parkade that will be demolished.
— image credit: PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

The demolition of the western portion the Front Street parkade is getting closer.

New Westminster is seeking bids to begin the process of tearing down the oldest section of the parkade and restore what remains. Six consulting firms attended a mandatory information meeting on Tuesday (April 22), said city engineer Jim Lowrie.

The western half was built in 1959 with an addition in 1965. It has 850 stalls but studies have shown most of them are unused. The city wants to carry out the demolition between Begbie and Sixth streets to open view corridors to the Fraser River and restore Front Street to "its original design."

Initially the city is seeking someone to cost out the project and plan it. Bids for that contract close May 8 with it being awarded May 23. The winner won't necessarily be the company that will tear it down. The subsequent timeline calls for demolition to begin in January, 2015.

The city wants the Sixth Street onramp and the stairs from Front Street to the first deck at Sixth Street to be retained. The bid proposal would also include removing the existing parkade office and building a new one.

Until the preliminary work is done the city is reluctant to give a ballpark estimate on how much the deconstruction will cost, said Lowrie. In its call, the city said it would consider innovative ideas and methods of doing the demolition to minimize impacts on traffic, noise, air quality and disruption for neighbouring businesses.

"That may require a premium to be paid for the demolition work," Lowrie said. "It would be premature to speculate on what the final number would be at this time."

The city proposed the demolition a few years ago but received resistance from Downtown merchants. But after doing a Downtown parking study and developing a strategy, the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Area agreed to tearing it down if there was enough new parking to replace it.

The new strategy called for 20 to 40 on-street stalls near the parkade in the short term with another 150 in the long term. Other stalls will also become available when new structures are built in the Downtown. Public stalls will also be available in the Anvil Centre civic facility when it opens in the next few months.

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