Proposed $8.5M Winter Garden parking garage doesn't sit well with some residents

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WINTER GARDEN, Fla. - Some Orange County residents are fighting plans for a new parking garage they believe will ruin the look and feel of downtown Winter Garden.

The $8.5 million garage would be built on top of the empty lot that sits near the intersection of Tremaine Street and Lakeview Avenue.

Resident Tim Maddalena has lived in Winter Garden for 30 years and said he's not happy with the city's push to put the four-level parking structure across the street from his home.

"This town has three stop signs and one traffic light.  Do we really need a full-size parking garage?" said Maddalena.

The proposed parking garage would provide space for about 700 vehicles and would be built on top of a lot that Maddalena said is never occupied.

"It is never full. Only on special event days," said Maddalena.

City Manager Mike Bollhoefer, however, said more parking is needed.

"Our primary reason is, it's our No. 1 issue when visitors come to the city," said Bollhoefer. "Also, we have a lot of potential investors. We need parking for them, for our projects to move forward."

Bollhoefer admits he's seen residents push back but said this is the best option for the future. He said the Idea has been in the works for two years.

The city said $6 million for the project would come out of the Community Redevelopment Agency fund, which is designated for community projects.

About $1.5 million would come from the city's impact fee fund.

The city is also hoping to get $2 million in tax credits from the federal government.

The money should be enough to cover the parking structure, officials said, but the city admits road improvements would need to be made to support the traffic flow, and there's no word yet how much that will cost.

The final decision will be made Thursday night. Commissioners will vote at a meeting inside city hall.