The cost of adding 195 new stalls to Kelowna's Library Parkade has increase 50 per cent to $6.4 million say city officials.

Cost of expanding Kelowna’s downtown Library Parkade jumps 50 percent

The bill to add 195 new parking stalls and 5,200-square-feet of commercial space has increased $2.4 million.

Now the city knows what it feels like for motorists when they face a steep increase in the cost  of parking.

City staff have told council that the price to build a planned extension onto the Library Parkade downtown will be more than 50 per cent more than originally planned.

The $6.4 million expansion—up from the original estimate of $4 million—is part of a plan to increase parking downtown.

The expansion will be done in conjunction with construction of a new $14.8 million parkade nearby, between the Kelowna Heritage Museum and Memorial Arena, to service a planned new high rise office tower across the street that Interior Health wants to use as its new headquarters.

According to city staff, the overall project—including both parkades—is now estimated at $21.3 million, up from the original estimate of $19 million. The city plans to borrow $1 million  to help pay for the Library Parkade expansion and $14 million to help pay for construction of the new parade.

The new structure is expected to be used mainly during the day by Interior Health employees, as many as 1,000 of whom will work in offices in the new tower at Ellis Street and Doyle Avenue.

The reason for the increase in the cost of the Library Parkade cost, according to city staff, is what they call unanticipated geotechnical remediation work that will be required, as well as expanding the street level retail the city wants to include in the project.

It will also include $100,000 worth of public art incorporated into to he design of the building, which the city says could be coloured patterns, designs or other artistic elements over seven large areas of the external walls that would normally be partially open, exposing the parking levels to the street below.

City Hall has said it will not include any street level commercial space in the new parkade in order to comply with what has become known as the “Simpson Covenant.” That document dates back to the 1950s, when Stanley Simpson sold the city land that Memorial Arena and the paring lot beside it that the new parkade will be built on now sit. The sale agreement stipulated  the land was to be only for used for municipal use, not commercial purposes.

Instead, it will include 6,000-square-feet of ground level municipal offices.

The expansion of the library parkade is slated for the Ellis Street side of the existing structure and is slated to open in the late summer or early fall of 2014.

The new 440-stall Ellis Parkade, as it is being called, will open in the fall of 2015 to coincide with the new IH building. IH has said it will rent 410 of the parking stalls in the Ellis Parkade.