They're really going to build it.

The city of Annapolis signed a contract last week with Desmond Associates of McLean, Va., to develop engineering plans for the long-awaited Gotts Court parking garage.

"We're going to build it," said Director of Central Services Emory Harrison.

The 4 -story garage will have about 600 parking spaces, Harrison said, and will cost about $5.5 million.

The garage has been planned for nearly five years, but a developer who had been selected in 1987 to build it, Gotts Court Limited Partnership, withdrew its offer last year because the owners decided they couldn't make a profit on the project.

Desmond will spend about 10 months developing plans for the garage, which will be located behind the Arundel Center, off Calvert Street. The architectural firm will be paid about $240,000 for its work.

The city will put the project out to bid next summer, and construction will start next September, Harrison said. The garage should be finished by September 1992, he said. Harrison said he has already heard from construction firms interested in building the garage.

City officials plan on using only a small part of the L-shaped parcel for the garage, Harrison said, leaving the rest for future development.

"We don't want to commit to the whole lot, because somewhere down the road, if someone wants to do something with it, like build a building, there won't be a garage sitting there," Harrison said.

For the time being, the city will plant trees and build a parking lot with the rest of the property, he said.

"There'll be plenty of green space," Harrison said. "You won't be able to see the parking lot."

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