To the Science Center's credit, the parking ramp will be built so an additional two levels can be added at a later date. Here is more info on the parking from the Des Moines Register:
Science Center to charge visitors to park
By BERT DALMER
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
October 3, 2004
Most visitors to the new Science Center of Iowa will have to pay to park at the $62 million attraction when it opens next spring in downtown Des Moines.
The pay-to-park arrangement, the first of its kind for a Des Moines museum, will place added strain on the center's finances but could also help draw more patrons.
Science Center Chairman Tom Hutchins said he does not expect the yet-to-be-set price of parking to affect attendance.
"We're not overly concerned about that," he said. "We understand that's part of the total experience of getting into the facility."
Some of those people eager to visit the center, however, said a parking fee, on top of admission and other costs, could factor into decisions on making repeat visits.
"That could be kind of tough, especially if you've got a big family, and the kids want to go to the IMAX," said Sharon Smith, a grandmother of three from Des Moines' south side.
"They might have to do something about setting times when you could park there with no charge."
The decision to have paid parking was quietly formalized earlier this month when center leaders struck a deal with Des Moines city officials and a private developer to build a three-story garage north of the museum.
The garage will be located on city property but will be privately built and operated by Nelson Development, an Urbandale construction firm.
The center will not share in the parking revenues, but it will pay about two-thirds of the garage's yet-to-be determined operating costs.
The original Science Center, located about 4 miles west of downtown in Greenwood Park, now offers free parking, as does its neighbor, the Des Moines Art Center, and every other museum in the city.
Planners of the new Science Center said they knew parking would be an issue at the downtown site.
However, building their own garage was never seriously considered because of the cost.
Center officials decided that an existing city parking lot on the site was too small, so they asked developers for proposals to build the multi-story garage instead. Nelson Development was the only company to bid on the $4.8 million job, city officials said.
Ticket prices for admission to the center will be "in the ballpark" with those anticipated by consultants in 2001 - about $7 for adults and another $7 for the center's new IMAX theater, Hutchins said.
While parking costs and hours have yet to be announced, the center has guaranteed garage operators about $327,000 in annual parking revenue - or about $4.25 a day, year-round, for each of the 210 spaces intended for museum patrons. Any shortfall in revenues will be reimbursed by the center.
Davis Sanders, a parking consultant for Foresite RDG of Des Moines, said the revenue projections seem high for a typical downtown garage. The Science Center's promise commits about $130 per space, per month, which exceeds most monthly rates in the area.
"It's not the market rate," Sanders said.
Officials said the parking will be offered to the general public and could be used for overflow parking for fans attending Iowa Cubs baseball games nearby, or during farmers' markets along Court Avenue in the summer.
City officials persuaded the developer to build the garage's third level - with a capability to add two more - in the belief that more loft-style apartments will be constructed in the vicinity. The city will lease the top floor of the structure for two years at a cost of $253,000, with a right to sublease its 88 spaces.
The extra deck brings the total of spaces at the garage to 298.
"This was an opportunity for the city to add parking very cheaply," said Andrea Hauer, the city's economic development coordinator.
Science Center leaders have encountered some other unexpected costs since taking the land, including $900,000 in interest for a loan that will front the museum money pledged through future donations.
Leaders still have to raise about $10 million to fulfill the project's $62 million budget.