PRINCETON BOROUGH: Managing garage up for bid

Princeton Borough is exploring contracting out the management of the Spring Street parking garage to a private company.
The borough requested proposals from the private sector for management services for the garage and received two bids.

According to Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi, borough staff is examining the bids in an effort to determine whether the benefits of switching to a private garage management company are sufficient to warrant recommending the borough proceed.

Three parking garage employees were laid off in the past year as the borough has sought to operate the garage more efficiently.

At the last Borough Council meeting Dec. 22, Councilman Roger Martindell said the borough needs to regard the garage as a stand-alone entity. Mr. Martindell said efforts needed to continue to maximize income and reduce expenses at the garage.

At the meeting, Mr. Bruschi said the garage was designed to operate with very minimal staffing, but because so many nonresident visitors to the borough parked at the garage and were unfamiliar with payment procedures, the borough continued to need to staff it in order to avoid problems.

The two bids to manage the garage came from Central Parking System in New York City and Five Star Parking in Newark. The borough asked for bids to manage the garage from April 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2010, and, alternately, from April 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2011.

Central Parking was the low bidder, offering to manage the garage during the nine-month period in 2010 for a total of $155,385 or about $17,265 a month. For the 21-month period ending Dec. 31, 2011, Central Parking also bid $17,265 a month for a total of $362,565.

It is our goal to increase the net operating income for you. The lot faces intense competition from surrounding facilities, Central Parking wrote in its bid documentation.

Central Parking is a national parking management firm with 2,400 locations across the United States, the companys bid stated. The company is owned by Central Parking Corp., which is privately held by several private equity firms.

Five Star Parking bid $19,444 a month to manage the garage for the nine-month period from April through Dec. 31, 2010, for a total of $175,000. The company bid $19,762 a month for the 21-month period ending Dec. 31, 2011, for a total of $415,000.

(I)t appears that the Borough of Princeton is undervaluing the price of parking in the area, and that a better structure is urgently needed, stated Five Star in its bid documentation. Immediately after being awarded the contract, we will begin collecting data and present to the Borough of Princeton a well-thought rate proposal to generate substantial additional revenue and increase the profitability of the facility.

Five Star Parking is a division of privately held parking lot and garage owner L&R Group in Los Angeles and holds the single largest parking contract in the United States, according to the companys bid, with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for managing parking at LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty airports. The contract brings in $250 million in annual revenue, Five Star stated.
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