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City to close 600-space parking garage in Downtown Crossing 'indefinitely'

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  April 18, 2013 05:19 PM

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(Matt Rocheleau for Boston.com)

A 600-space city-owned parking garage in Downtown Crossing will close indefinitely this week due to concern about its structural integrity, officials announced Thursday.

The Winthrop Square garage will close starting at midnight on Friday, April 19, officials said. No vehicles will be allowed to enter after 3 p.m. Friday.

Drivers who use the garage are being urged to find "long-term alternate parking" options in the area.

The garage is use primarily by commuters, said Susan Elsbree, spokeswoman for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which manages the property.

The two-story cement structure was built in the early 1960s and has deteriorated over the years, largely due to moisture, she said.

Ongoing repairs and maintenance have been done, she said. And city inspectors have closely monitored the condition and integrity of the garage.

But, this week, city officials "collectively came to a decision that we think the best thing to do is to close the garage," said Elsbree. "We don't feel comfortable keeping it open."

She said the decision was made "out of an abundance of caution."

Elsbree said officials will have an outside engineer assess the building before deciding what to do next.

She said officials are working to notify area businesses and commuters.

The garage's day-to-day parking sevice is handled by a third-party company. Revenues from the garage are used to pay that company and the rest of the money goes to the Boston Housing Authority, which oversees public housing in the city.

Elsbree said the city has tried to sell the property for redevelopment.

In May 2006, the city began soliciting for redevelopment proposals and worked with with one developer who had an "ambitious" proposal for the site, she said.

But ultimately the city was unable to come to terms that were "financially feasible for both parties."

The city released a map of nearby parking garages, MBTA stops and Hubway stations that may provide commuters with other solutions.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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