Parking in downtown Redmond is getting a face-lift in a couple of ways.

Many people are aware of the parking lot expansion at Evergreen between Seventh and Eighth streets, as well as the new parking lot being developed at Evergreen and Fourth.

But the new idea is a little less visible: parking garages with designated parking for certain downtown apartments.

A two-space parking garage was recently constructed in the alley behind Ida’s Cupcakes, serving the apartments above the bakery, said Meghan Gassner, Urban Renewal Program Analyst for the City of Redmond. Mission Building knocked out the wall behind Ida’s to create the designated parking, said Gassner.

“It’s one of those ideas you hear and you’re not sure how it’s going to look until you see it — and it’s great,” she said.

It’s the first use of existing building space as parking in downtown Redmond, said Gassner.

While not every building in the downtown area has the possibility for a ground floor garage, the city is encouraging re-purposing existing buildings as mixed use space for parking, business and residential apartments or condos, she said.

“We’ve heard from folks that there’s a high interest in having that urban feel and being able to live downtown,” she said.

Adding some designated parking to “maintain livability” for downtown residents, as well as relieve traffic congestion, has been one of the objectives in downtown urban renewal, said Gassner.

The new and expanded parking lots will provide about 78 additional spaces for those who want to visit downtown, said Gassner.

The amount of traffic coming through downtown on a daily basis is the same as before the bypass was constructed, said Gassner, “but it’s local traffic for downtown. Helping people find a close in proximity place to park has been one of the priorities.”

Both lots will include electric car charging stations, “to meet the need before it becomes a large need,” said Gassner. There will be capacity for charging two cars at Fourth Street and four cars at the old city hall lot, as well as a conduit to be able to add spaces as needed.

The old city hall parking lot expansion will be fenced off through the completion of the project in October or November, said Gassner.

Mission Building is also constructing new apartments on the back of the historic National Bank building at 404 SW Sixth Street, with a ground floor parking garage to serve two floors of apartments above, said Francis Senger, owner of the construction company.

The original historic building is being “cleaned up,” said Francis, but will retain the facade and original windows and will be left as a large commercial space for lease.

The six, one-bedroom apartments, which are expected to be completed mid-to-late 2021, will have a “historical element to the design,” as well as reusing some old beams in shelving and accents, said Francis. They are being constructed in the place of an addition that was built on the back of the building in the 1950s or ‘60s, and there had not been parking there previously, he said.

The parking garage for these apartments was the developer’s solution to provide off-street designated parking for the potential tenants, said Gassner, which “certainly makes them more attractive in terms of being able to rent them out.”

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