LONDON, ONT. -- City hall’s plan for a new public parking garage in downtown London is now on hold, because of financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was launched to shortlist developers interested in building a public garage and mixed-use building on the municipal parking lot at 185 Queens Ave.

On Tuesday, council members were told that the RFQ has been cancelled.

“In order to respond to that proposal, there were a number of financial elements that could put a proponent at significant risk to put forward a letter of credit at this time,” explained City Treasurer Anna Lisa Barbon.

According to the City of London website, three proposals had been submitted by the following firms:

  • Farhi Holdings, London
  • Newton Group, Guelph
  • Perimeter Development, Kitchener

The individual proposals have not been made public.

Farhi Holdings owns the adjacent parking lot at 199 Queens Ave.

“We submitted, and then we heard it was cancelled,” explains Shmuel Farhi. “Now I tell you, I do understand the priority that the city (has), I do.”

Farhi agrees that fighting the pandemic needs to be the prime concern right now, but he believes his proposal would eventually boost downtown London’s economic recovery.

“This development will assist to bring more people downtown as we did in the past three years, and generate the city millions of dollars,” says Farhi.

The 2017 Downtown Parking Strategy determined there is sufficient parking in the core overall, but the central and southwest areas could experience a shortage of spots in the future.

A parking garage at 185 Queens Ave. could service Dundas Place, Fanshawe College and Budweiser Gardens.

But Barbon says civic administration’s approach to resuming the project will depend on the eventual impacts of the pandemic.

“Could be quite significant based on the extent of the pandemic,” she explains.

“To put something forward that could further add to our capital plan at this time, without having the broader oversight of what that means in our broader capital plan, I think is premature.”