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The Utah Transit Authority gave an initial nod Wednesday to allow West Valley City to build a five-story parking garage on UTA's current park-and-ride lot at Fairbourne Station, at the end of the green TRAX line near the Valley Fair Mall.
The UTA Board's Planning and Development Committee endorsed a 99-year lease to allow the new garage and sent it to the full board for final approval expected later this month.
"Payment" by the city for the lease would be providing at least 200 free parking spaces essentially the bottom floor for mass-transit users in the new, 826-stall garage.
Other parking spaces would be used by the adjacent Embassy Suites Hotel, workers in nearby offices and residents of neighboring apartments under construction.
UTA board member H. David Burton expressed concern that keeping noncommuters out of prime UTA parking spaces may prove difficult. Agency officials, however, say they plan enforcement blitzes by UTA police to help.
The city would own the garage, but UTA would retain ownership of the land. The city will maintain the garage, but UTA will pay $13,600 a year to help with those costs essentially what it pays now to maintain its current parking lot each year.
The project would increase parking for what has been one of the UTA's most-crowded parking lots.
The current lot at 3590 S. Market St. has 139 stalls and an average weekday occupancy of 126 meaning it usually is about 91 percent full, said Steve Meyer, UTA chief capital development officer.
Meyer said the new project would provide covered parking for commuters and "more stalls overall that will meet the increasing demand for parking due to new commercial and residential development in this exciting new transit-oriented development."
West Valley City has said it hopes to complete the new garage by fall 2015. It has pegged the cost at $14 million to $16 million.
During construction, the agreement calls for West Valley City to provide 30 stalls for commuters in its nearby City Hall parking lot, along with free parking for commuters at the Maverik Center near another TRAX station.