One of the biggest questions hanging over downtown Portland
is how City Hall would deal with a sticky, big-dollar problem: who would get the contract to manage six city-owned Smart Park garages
In 2003, the city awarded the business to the Schlesinger family's Star Park and a consortium of minority chambers of commerce.
In so doing, the city ended
the 18-year stranglehold by the Goodman family's City Center Parking, by far the largest parking company in Portland.
The city garages play an important role at City Hall because they are both a large source of revenue for the city but also the lowest price operator downtown. Whoever controls their 4,000 parking spaces is in a position to influence pricing at private lots. And depending on how efficiently the city-owned garages are managed, they influence parking patterns in the downtown core.
Both Star Park and its partners and City Center have pursued the contract aggressively and deciding between the two companies was going to be a difficult issue for the City Council. But it now appears the council has arrived at an elegant solution to the dilemma of choosing between two powerful local companies: choose neither.
Here's the news from the Portland Bureau of Transportation:
(Portland, Ore.) – In November 2009, the City released a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking qualified proposals for the operations of the City parking garages. Five companies responded. The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation announced today a Notice of Intent to Negotiate and Award the operations contract of the six City parking garages to Central Parking System.
Central Parking System is a national leader in professional parking management, with operations in most major metropolitan areas in the United States, including Seattle, Washington.
“Smart, efficient, and customer-focused parking is essential to the economic vitality of downtown Portland,” said Mayor Sam Adams. “Central Parking System brings to the City of Portland innovations that will lead to reduced operating costs, enhanced customer service, and improved marketing of the garages to promote visitors to downtown Portland.”
An external evaluation committee of representatives from business, legal, and parking operators reviewed each proposal, interviewed all five companies, and recommended awarding the contract to Central Parking System. The next step is for City Council to authorize a contract with the company.
The six City of Portland SmartPark parking garages include nearly 4,000 public parking spaces and serve shoppers, business clients, and visitors to downtown Portland. The City parking facilities are located at SW 1st and Jefferson, SW 3rd and Alder, SW 4th and Yamhill, SW 10th and Yamhill, O'Bryant Square, and NW Naito and Davis.
Among Central Parking System's strengths is the fact that since 1985 they have provided opportunities for partnerships with women and minorities as well as emerging small businesses on their projects.