The City of Loveland is moving forward to add more parking to its Historic Downtown business district, which overlaps the popular Little Miami Scenic Trail.
Construction could begin in Fall 2023 to build a surface parking lot with approximately 150 spaces off First Street behind City Hall. These spaces would add to the city’s current 535 public parking spaces. The proposed lot would have access from First Street and State Route 48. There would be no fee to park in the lot.
Previously, city staff proposed building a 270-space parking garage, which is now estimated to cost more than $7 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on inflating construction costs.
“City Council has insisted from the beginning that debt funding for the parking garage be kept at a minimum, so city staff has submitted multiple grant applications seeing outside funding,” explained David Kennedy, Loveland City Manager.
City staff applied for $2.8 million in funding from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) in Summer 2020 and $3.1 million in Fall 2021. Both applications were not approved. In December 2022, a planning grant summary was submitted for Governor DeWine’s Appalachian Community Grant Program through OhioBuilds. If awarded, this grant would have paid for 100% of the total cost to build the parking facility. The city was notified in April that the federal government changed the guidelines and parking facilities were no longer eligible for funding.
“The surface lot is now the best solution to achieve what we need in the Historic Downtown district — more parking and improved traffic flow. City staff is proposing that we pivot and use grant monies already awarded for the construction of a surface lot in the same location as the proposed parking garage and a new access point into downtown from State Route 48,” said Kennedy.
Although the construction cost is unknown until the design process is completed, project engineers estimate the lot can be constructed with existing grant funding. The city has secured $1.15 million in state and federal funding already: a $900k Capitol Bill Community Project grant from the State of Ohio and a $250k grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
Regardless of project or funding source, the city has taken several steps over the last several years to prepare the site for construction. An archaeological survey was conducted to ensure the site is free of cultural resources, or artifacts. A wetland delineation study was completed to ensure there are no wetlands, streams, or water features on the site. The site has also been approved for construction by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and no trees would be removed from the site until Oct. 1, per the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
As for next steps, if City Council should direct city staff to proceed, the design process will begin. Bidding for construction proposals could take place this summer with construction beginning in late fall. The surface lot could be completed by early to mid-2024.
Location of proposed surface lot