The City has put out an RFP looking for a company that will run a turn-key parking lot operation across Lower Broadway from the Encore Boston Harbor casino – with an eye to using revenues from the temporary lot for investment into public transit and infrastructure projects.
City Transportation Coordinator Jay Monty said the City will be operating the parking lot on Lower Broadway that Encore permitted last year as temporary overflow parking for the casino. The 600-plus spot parking lot will only be in existence for three years, and bids have gone out and will be opened next week for a third-party operator.
“The reason it went to the City operating it is the casino parking numbers are described in the license,” he said. “The way around that was to have the City operate it as an separate entity. We will be selecting a company to run the lot for us…For the City, it will be a turn-key operation. We don’t want to be in the business of operating parking lots. That’s not the direction we’re going. After the end of three years, we’ll turn it back over the Encore for further development.”
The lot was controversial last year as it was always supposed the company would re-develop it into another hotel or amenity to the casino site. However, in the interim, Encore officials suggested using the lot as overflow parking for the first three years while they design and permit the other development. It got some pushback, but was eventually approved based on the fact it was a three-year maximum.
The City has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the casino which basically says the City will operate the lot, and the casino will build it out – including drainage, landscaping, and parking collection machinery.
As the operator, the City will also get to keep all parking revenues.
“The idea was to reinvest that money into our transportation infrastructure in Everett,” said Monty, noting that it would go into a special fund. “We don’t know how this lot will perform. It could be hot and heavy for a month and then not performing at all…We have the Lower Broadway bus lane at 25 percent design right now, so funding the remainder of that might be a good starting point.”
Right now, the lot is – and has – been used for construction worker parking. As the construction worker population decreases over the next few months prior to the casino’s opening, work on the lot will begin.
It is expected that Encore will charge a pretty penny to park in their garage, though those numbers have not yet been revealed.
A key part of the City lot, Monty said, will be finding the right price to charge to keep commuters out of the lot, and to also remain a complement to the casino parking. One thing they don’t want to do is make it so cheap that commuters begin parking there, and they also don’t want it to be low enough that casino users would consider using the City lot and walking across Lower Broadway.
“What we’re going to do is structure the pricing so it complements parking at the site,” he said. “They are charging a significant amount to park at the site. We want to come in slightly under the casino. We don’t want to be a commuter lot. There’s no reason for that. The right price point should keep commuters out and push people to the casino lot.”
The lot is expected to open slightly before the opening of the Encore on June 24.