MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) — The parking garage in downtown Bradenton that 500 county employees park in daily needs to be demolished within the next three years, according to county officials.

The structure, built in the late 1980s, has fallen into disrepair after “deferred maintenance.”

An engineering report dated December 2021 said inspectors found “multiple and extensive locations of hollow sounds, cracks and spalls” on both the tops and bottoms of the garage. The third-party firm also suggested “major, invasive repair involving concrete removal and replacement” and recommends that work be completed in the next 18 to 24 months.

Fortunately, county officials say the deterioration has since slowed, and the timeline to get it taken care of is longer than initially thought.

“We are getting ourselves some good points of reference. Originally, it was at a point of deterioration that we would have expected it to be traveling upward, it is starting to flatten out. The last point that we had was in June of this year and it had increased in deterioration by about 1.7%,” said the county’s construction services manager Tom Yarger.

The timeframe for demolition now sits between two to three years, according to Yarger. Engineers from Sarasota are inspecting the structure every three months at this point in time.

“There is a sense of urgency, because we are on a timeline, and we are paying attention to that very strictly,” said Yarger. “We need to design it, we need to demolish it, and then we need to rebuild it and that timeline is about 18 to 22 months for the full timeline from start to finish for construction.”

Commissioners heard from staff on very preliminary design plans during a workshop this week. One of the possible designs includes up to 1600 parking spaces, plus office and retail space within a twelve level structure. It was estimated the price tag for the project could reach the $100 million mark. There is also a possibility for a public-private partnership on the property that would include housing.

Commissioners will have the final say at a later date.