The Brighton Downtown Development Authority got bad news last week when informed that soil borings indicate the soil under the North St. parking lot and the West St. parking lot are not conducive to building parking structures.

The indication from engineers is that because the two parking lots are directly above where the Mill Pond was before it was moved underground south of Main St., the soil underneath is very muddy and unstable. DDA Chairman Bob Herbst tells WHMI that engineers hit water only 3.5 feet down from the surface. That means expensive and very deep pilings would have to be put in to stabilize the soil, if the city wanted to erect a multi-story parking structure.

Despite the temporary setback, Herbst says the DDA would like both parking lots developed eventually, in conjunction with construction of a parking structure. Initially, the North Street Parking Lot was eyed as a perfect location for a 4-or-5-story parking structure that would support many businesses plus all of the restaurants in the West Main St. area, plus two more restaurants that are now under construction. But the unstable soils would make that a much more expensive proposition.

Herbst says building either apartments or downtown condos on the same land as the street-level parking lots are another possibility, if a parking structure were to become a reality. Although the price tag for a parking structure is quite high, at $9-10 million, Herbst says since the DDA owns other parcels in the city there is the possibility of a land swap with a private entity and creating a public-private partnership which could help the city by financing part of the cost of the parking structure.

Herbst says downtown living units have become much more popular in recent years with young professionals, young married couples and empty nesters, and building more housing in and near the downtown area will help ensure the viability of Brighton’s already vibrant downtown. (TT)

Photo: North St. (unpaved) parking lot