GREENSBORO — Residents should see the new parking deck at the corner of East Market and South Davie streets begin to take shape this spring, despite the recent discovery of tunnels on the site.

“The tunnels are not for people. They’re used for utilities,” said Jake Keys, a city spokesman. “We didn’t expect to find them.” 

The tunnels housed utility lines for the old S & W Cafeteria, which operated at the site for 24 years until it closed in 1975. The building was demolished in 1976.

“We’re working on getting some estimates to get (the tunnels) cleared out,” Keys said.

He did not know how much that work would add to the cost of the project, which was estimated at $30 million when approved by the city in late 2017.

Construction workers also found an old boiler wrapped with insulation containing asbestos at the site, but Keys said that problem has been resolved.

Keys said the five-story deck will have between 700 and 750 spaces — smaller than the six-story deck with 850 spaces that was originally approved.

While the site now looks like a water-filled pit, Keys said by “mid- or late spring, you’ll see construction going vertical.”

The parking deck will have direct access to a Westin Hotel planned for 203 S. Elm St. That hotel is scheduled to open in 2021, according to Westin’s website.

The hotel project, led by local businessman Randall Kaplan, would lease 180 of the parking spaces at regular city rates.

The deck has been controversial, with some people raising questions about the city’s need for more parking and accusations of corporate welfare.

The city paid $735,000 to settle a lawsuit by Cone Denim Entertainment Center, a venue on South Elm Street.

Cone Denim sued the city, claiming the parking deck would interfere with its easement that allows tour buses and trucks to access the back of its building at 117 S. Elm St.

Under the terms of the settlement, Cone Denim gave the city its easement in exchange for a driveway next to the building.

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Contact Kenwyn Caranna at 336-373-7082.

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