Easton was awarded a $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development to build a parking garage, the state announced.
The parking garage could contain 350 spaces and cost about $15 million, although it’s too early to pinpoint with any certainty on such a large project, said Luis Campos, city administrator.
The size, location and cost of the parking garage are still being determined, although it will be in the central business district, Campos said.
The grant must be used for a parcel Fourth and Church streets, he said.
As business, apartments and tourism in Easton have grown in recent years, parking has become more difficult. The past two years, the Easton Public Market, 48 retail shops and 150 new apartments have opened downtown. Lafayette College is expanding and moved 80 employees downtown.
The parking problem is expected to become more acute as growth continues.
One of the biggest unknowns is whether the Da Vinci Science Center’s proposed $130 million science center will come to fruition in Easton, which could bring 600,000 visitors annually.
Campos said the city will conduct a parking study.
“We will go to the market in the next couple months between now and mid-year and get an RFP [request for proposal] out to have a firm come in and do a market study for the city,” Campos said.
“That will get the ball rolling and show current and future demand” for parking, he said.
City officials expect by the time the city is ready to issue an RFP, the Da Vinci Science Center will have completed its feasibility phase, per a memorandum of agreement it has with the city.
Some of the locations under consideration for a new parking garage include Fourth and Church streets, across from the new police station, and the aging Pine Street garage.
“It is getting close to meeting its life expectancy,” Campos said.
The state grant is being funded through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.