A downtown Sudbury parking garage was closed this week amid concerns about the safety of the structure.

The owners say plans to demolish the garage have now been moved up.

A representative for the owners, Paul D'Aloisio, said they knew the nearly 50-year-old building was coming to the end of its life.

Originally, they planned to close it at the end of February.

Cedar street car park, downtown sudbury

The owners of the Cedar Street car park say engineering reports received over the weekend prompted them to close the 49-year-old structure a few weeks ahead of schedule. (Erik White/CBC)

But D'Aloisio said structural engineers who observed cracking concrete and rusting re-bar over the weekend decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

"In light of what's happened in Elliot Lake, you know, there's a heightened sense of concern,” D'Aloisio said.

Greater Sudbury's Chief building official Guido Mazza said city inspectors have been taking weekly looks at the garage since mid-September.

"I don't want people to think that, at any time, we were putting anybody at risk."

Higher rents?

The garage, and soon the Japanese restaurant on the main floor, will sit empty and wait for the wrecking ball this summer.

D'Aloisio said he feels for the downtown workers who used the 110 parking spots in the Cedar car park.

decaying parking garage, sudbury

Cracking concrete and rusting re-bar has prompted an early closure of a downtown parking garage. The garage will be torn down and replaced with a parking lot. (Erik White/CBC)

He says the company will replace it with a parking lot, but it will have half as many parking spaces.

The average parking rate in downtown Sudbury is about $100 a month, and those in the parking business would need to double for a private car park to make financial sense, D'Aloisio said.

"Given the parking rates in downtown Sudbury, they don't warrant the construction of a concrete structure like that. You'd need much higher rents."

Meanwhile, the city continues to look at building its own parking tower to ease a downtown parking crunch that’s been blamed for holding back business and residential development.