ARLINGTON — A structural engineer has deemed the two-story parking garage that serves Arlington’s Municipal Court unsafe, and it will be demolished next month.The upper parking level of the garage, north of the Municipal Office Tower, was closed May 23 after a 2-by-3-foot hole appeared in the concrete. Lower-level parking is safe and will remain open to visitors until the 34-year-old parking garage is torn down, said Steve Cooke, assistant director of public works and transportation.The aging garage has been inspected annually for five years, and the city has made improvements and repairs as recommended by a contracted structural engineer. The failure in the upper level was unexpected, Cooke said. No one was injured. “We have done all we can do. We’ve attempted to keep this thing going. It’s just done,” Cooke said. The engineer “said it needed to be demolished because it was no longer a safe structure to park on.”The Municipal Office Tower is at 101 S. Mesquite St., just east of the George W. Hawkes Library. The estimated cost to raze the garage is $40,000.City officials are hope to eventually share a 604-space parking garage that private developers are planning as part of their redevelopment of the current library site downtown. Atlanta-based Integral Development and Dallas-based Catalyst Development want to demolish the 40-year-old library, which the city has already approved for rebuilding north of City Hall and replacement with a mixed-use development that includes apartments, offices and restaurants. That redevelopment project, if approved by the city, would take at least two years to complete.“If that falls through, then we will have to re-evaluate,” Cooke said.In the meantime, tower visitors are being directed to other parking locations, including the lot near Mellow Mushroom on Front Street between North Center and Pecan streets, and the University of Texas at Arlington’s Park North garage at UTA Boulevard and Center Street.Vehicles parked in the private surface lot east of the tower could be towed, Cooke warned.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock