Zoo Atlanta garage coming, but parking won’t be free

Parking at Zoo Atlanta will become more plentiful in the future, but it will come at a cost.

The Atlanta City Council on Monday agreed to float more than $30 million in bonds to fund a 1,000-space, multi-level parking garage at the popular Grant Park attraction.

However, unlike today’s free parking at the zoo, visitors will have to pay at the new garage. The fee is designed to help the city pay for the new structure, city leaders said.

“We are not expecting this to be a money generator,” James Beard, the city’s chief financial officer said. “We expect this to pay for itself.”

The proposed parking would be constructed underground and feature greenspace on its roof and other amenities.

City Councilwoman Carla Smith said charging for parking could have another benefit: keeping parking usable for all. She said some visitors leave behind trash after having cookouts and food in the lots, taking up spaces that others could use to park their vehicles.

“We kind of take free stuff for granted and we are not respectful,” she said.