IT has been a long slog, but it is finally here.
The issue of a new new car park for Bendigo was first raised in the late 1980s during a council election, and has been a hot potato ever since.
Its latest incarnation, a multi-storey facility in the southern part of the CBD has been in the planning stages for almost eight years.
Council allocated $3.12 million in the 2003-04 budget for a car park on the corner of Hargreaves, Queen and Edward Street.
That idea fell over because the council and private owner of the land could not agree.
Because that process took far too long to work through, the current project was also delayed for far too long.
It has been the hottest issue the council has seen since, Hargreaves Mall redevelopment aside.
City of Greater Bendigo mayor Alec Sandner has officially declared the new $15m Edward Street Car Park and Office complex building open.
Cr Sandner said the new car park has been constructed on time and on budget and is the council's largest ever single capital works project.
“I am delighted to declare this important new car park and office complex open for business," he said.
"Council has delivered this commercially viable project to relieve pressure on parking in our growing city, provide much needed new commercial space to create new employment opportunities and create an active street level frontage along Edward Street.
“For the last 10 years or so car parking has been identified by traders and residents through the annual Community Satisfaction Surveys as a major area that needs improvement and Council is very proud to have delivered this important project which will stimulate continued development of the Bendigo central business district.
“It’s a truly fantastic outcome which has not only provided much needed new car parking, but also a total of 1,800 square metres of new ground level commercial space, the majority of which has been leased by the State Trustees as their new Bendigo Regional office.
“One hundred people will work at the State Trustees new Bendigo office. Three-quarters of the staff will be new positions recruited locally and the remaining quarter will be existing staff from the Melbourne head office who will relocate to Bendigo.
“The remaining commercial space will be leased as a café/bar business operation and further news about this will be announced in the near future.
“We expect that the income generated by renting the commercial space along with the parking fees collected will allow the development to be fully paid off in about eleven years. When paid off, the complex will provide a significant profitable return to the City of Greater Bendigo each year thereafter,” Cr Sandner said.
The five-tiered building features four levels of parking 320 short term parking bays and 100 reserved long term parking bays.
The car park has employed a new Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) system to monitor all vehicles that enter the facility and customers will enjoy 90 minutes of free parking each day. It is also the only secure car park in Bendigo that offers 24/7 access for reserved customers.
The car park also features the only public toilets with baby change facilities on the south side of the CBD, lifts and stair access, disabled parking, free secure bike parking and 52 video security cameras.
In addition to the construction of the new complex the City of Greater Bendigo has also carried out significant footpath, lighting and landscaping works surrounding the complex.
The complex was designed by Peddle Thorp Architects, constructed by H Troon and project managed by Gallagher Jeffs on behalf of the City of Greater Bendigo.
This current project has come in on time and on budget, a result of a redistribution of priorities inside council and some strong political pressure from councillors and the community.
The car park features 320 short term parking spaces over three levels and an additional 100 reserved long term parking bays on the roof top level.
Fees for the new car park have been set at $1.40 per hour or a maximum of $7 per day
Over half of the available 100 reserved car parking spaces have been taken up.
“People wanting to reserve a permanent car park in the new Edward Street car park have two choices.," Greater Bendigo Parking an Animal Control manager Neville Zimmer said.
“They can pay $125 per month for Monday to Friday business hour access or $150 per month for 24/7 access.
“The 24/7 access is ideal for people who live in the city centre or businesses that operate outside of normal hours and don’t have access to a car park because it provides safe and secure access without being subjected to any parking restrictions.
“It’s a good opportunity to secure permanent parking in the busy CBD."
Interested people and businesses will be required to fill out an Expression of Interest form and reserved car parking will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
Anyone interested in a permanent long term space in the new car park should contact the City of Greater Bendigo’s Parking and Animal Control Service Unit by phoning 5434 6000.