Downtown Vincennes is getting yet another parking lot.
Members of the city’s Redevelopment Commission on Monday voted during a special meeting to move forward with construction of a public parking lot at the corner of Sixth and Main streets.
The commission, per a recommendation from city engineer John Sprague, awarded a bid for just under $376,000 to Bicknell’s Kerns Excavating, the same company that built the other parking lot just across Sixth Street, one the RDC paid for.
The project will include the same train depot inspired covered walkway around its perimeter as well as some new street lighting along Main Street between Sixth and Seventh streets. The poles, Sprague said, will match existing lighting along Main Street right now.
Sprague told RDC members that he will likely issue a notice to proceed on Monday, and Kerns will then have 60 days to complete the lot.
The lighting and the canopy, he said, will likely take another 60 days beyond that, putting final completion sometime this spring.
“But they’re ready to tear down that building and get going,” Sprague said of the old Conoco Station there.
RDC members have been discussing the possible lot for months. They took a step back when Sprague’s early estimates put the potential cost at $500,000; he later lowered that to $400,000.
So last week when RDC members received two bids lower than that, as well as one above, they were pleased.
The RDC last year spent $300,000 to construct the first lot at Sixth and Main, meant primarily to service patrons to Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom.
A handful of downtown business owners then pleaded with the RDC to do even more, saying the popular eatery was putting a strain on downtown parking.
And while some RDC members did question whether additional parking was needed at all, members voted Monday to move forward.
“Several months ago we had several downtown business owners come to the meeting and ask us to look at that property for parking,” said RDC member Tim Smith, who made the motion to approve. “We’re seeing an increase in businesses downtown, and I believe that to be the gateway to our downtown.”
Smith said he also worried what would happen to that property if the RDC didn’t move forward to clean it up.
The local non-profit INVin purchased the lot, paid to clean it up then gave it to the city in the hope that officials would move forward with construction of the lot.
“Right now, it doesn’t look very nice, and I’m hopeful that with the additional spaces, and in keeping with the design across the street, that it will really enhance that whole area.”
Smith also said he thought with more parking on the east end of Main Street, the city lot located at Third and Vigo and the Riverfront Pavilion on the west end, downtown would finally have adequate parking.
RDC member Bob Slayton called the property, the way it is, an “eyesore” and that a parking lot would be inevitably better.
“And that is the gateway to our downtown. That’s the impression people get,” he said. “We’re trying to develop our downtown, (yet) businesses come to us and say, ‘We have traffic problems. Access to our places is blocked.’
“So this all just seems to make sense and fit with our overall plan,” he said.