The St. Johns Town Center has consistently been the busiest shopping center in Northeast Florida since it opened in 2006.
Shoppers enjoy the Town Center’s wide variety of upscale stores, all grouped together in a mega-sized retail hub. The center has just about every kind of store you can imagine, and continues to bring in even more options.
There is, however, one key feature that the Town Center is missing: a parking garage.
When looking at the layout of the center, it may not immediately seem like a parking garage is needed. After all, sizeable chunks of the center are dedicated to massive surface parking lots.
But once you’ve visited the Town Center on weekends or during the holiday season, you’ll understand that all of these surface lots still don’t provide enough spaces for the hoards of shoppers that it attracts.
A parking garage built on any of these surface lots could triple or quadruple the number of cars that space could hold. Multiple garages would only add to the effect.
There have been plans in the past for a garage to be built, but those plans always fell through. Now, even as the center keeps sprawling outward, none of the new developments offer a better solution to the cramped parking situation.
So why hasn’t a garage ever been built?
Well, there’s one very important reason: it costs a lot of money to build a parking garage. The average garage costs around $7-8 million to construct. When you compare that against around $2 per square foot to pave out a surface lot, a garage becomes a tough idea to sell a developer on including in their projects.
Another thing to consider is the amount of disruption that would be caused by the construction. If there were to be a garage built at the site of any of the existing parking lots, it would take those lots out of commission for about a year. This would cause even more parking-related chaos, especially around the holiday season.
Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that a garage will be built at the Town Center any time in the near future. There are other projects, such as improving walkability and providing a consistent shuttle service, that are higher up on the list of priorities and more likely to secure funding.
Still, as the Town Center continues to grow and expand, a parking garage – or multiple garages – will eventually become a necessity.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The garage being built around all of the current new construction is not for use by shoppers – it’s an apartment complex’s garage.)