The Manly 2015 "urban renewal" plan depends on pulling down Whistler St car park and selling off the land for a mixed retail-residential development. Then spending $40 million to build a new a car park under Manly oval - in a flood zone and further away from the shops. Here's a better idea - keep Whistler St.
Whistler St car park is for the locals. It's right in Manly CBD, with no major roads between you and the shops. Manly oval car park - way over there on the wrong side of busy Belgrave St - will be for the tourists, who don't know where else to park. If you've got heavy shopping, or it's raining, the oval's too far away.
Whistler St makes a profit - $700,000 each year. The oval car park? Maybe after 2030. And that depends on continuing low interest rates on our $30+ million loan, low car park maintenance costs and more people coming to Manly in cars.
Maintenance costs. Whistler St doesn't cost a lot to maintain, because it's built above ground. The council already owns an underground car park - the one in Wentworth St - and it's by far the most expensive to maintain. The oval car park would be a multi-level construction, built in a known water course in a known flood zone. How much will we really pay?
Whistler St car park does not have concrete cancer.
We do not need to spend $5.2 million to bring Whistler St up to fire safety standards. Our advice is that the car park was built in the 1970s and need only conform to fire standards for an existing building. It would need fire stairs on the outside and additional sprinklers. Good For Manly's expert has assessed the upgrade at under $500,000.
Whistler St is ugly. Yes it is. Here are some ways to make it beautiful. Install vertical gardens like the gorgeous creations at Central Park, Broadway. Put up murals. Install a screen on the side of the car park and show outdoor movies on it. Convert the small ground level parking area in front to a pedestrian plaza.
A car park doesn't mind the noise. But people do. The Manly 2015 Plan is to build apartments on the Whistler St site. But that doesn't work with the rest of the plan, which is to revitalise Market Lane - right next door - and have wine bars and restaurants open till late.
We save $30+ million. More if construction costs or interest rates go up.
Are there any other good reasons to keep Whistler St car park? Let us know here.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.