Photo of downtown parking structure entrance. Credit: Carolyne Sysmans / Mustang News

The City of San Luis Obispo will start the building of the first new parking structure in over 20 years starting this week, according to a city news release. 

The 163,000-square-foot “Cultural Arts District Parking Structure” will be located at the corner of Palm Street and Nipomo Street in Downtown San Luis Obispo.

“Since 2003, the City has been planning and working on designs for a fourth parking structure to fit the current and future needs of the community and downtown,” according to the initial project news release.

Since the last structure was built, the downtown area has seen a loss in parking availability with new buildings, according to Deputy Director of Public Works Brian Nelson. 

“Off-street parking options over time have been reducing, so there’s been a lot of wait for a new structure that recoups some of those off-street losses,” Nelson said. 

The parking structure will be built on top of the existing parking lot currently on the corner. The new lot will be five stories high with 396 parking spaces and 129 electric vehicle charging stations, according to the news release. 

The structure gets its name from cultural buildings like the Children’s Museum, History Center and Museum of Art located nearby.  

The existing lot will have limited spaces and closures through May as the city begins the new project. 

Phase one of the plan will start the first week of May, according to the release. In phase one, there will be demolition of vacant buildings adjacent to where the parking lot will be built. Phase two is projected to start in the fall with the groundbreaking of the new structure. 

The project is expected to take two years to complete, according to the news release.

The city said the Cultural Arts District Parking Structure will also add more bike storage downtown. The structure will be equipped with solar panels to balance the electrical needs of the new structure. 

“By investing in important pieces of public infrastructure like this one, we are one step closer to realizing our community’s vision for this part of the downtown core,” SLO city manager Derek Johnson said in the news release.