City loses $6 million in grants due to Forum's garage gaffe

FedExForum's parking garage is 31 spaces too small, turns a big profit for the Grizzlies even though its not supposed to and really isn't what it's supposed to be.

Let the blame game begin.

Sometimes a parking garage is just a parking garage, even when it's not supposed to be. The $20 million grant contract between the City of Memphis and TDOT, to pay for the FedExForum garage, cleary says the structure was supposed to be an "intermodal transfer facility" like Downtown's North End Terminal.

It's not.

And for nearly two years, no one called the city out.

"During the process no one at TDOT contacted the PBA that this project was not in compliance," said Charles Carpenter, of the Public Building Authority.

A TDOT audit of the project accuses the Public Building Authority, which oversaw construction, of misleading state and federal agencies to get the grant. The audit says the PBA submitted one set of plans for the project which included the intermodal facility, but built from a second set of plans.

"It was more of an effort to try to rush things along, an ill conceived way the project was put together and it led to some of these unfortunate circumstances," said Gerald Nicely, TDOT commissioner.

But PBA officials say they didn't knowingly mislead anybody, and TDOT might have avoided the whole thing with better oversight, something the audit also mentions.

"Obviously, in the report, it's critical of TDOT, that their oversight and the way they monitored this project left a lot to be desired," said Carpenter.

Regardless who's to blame the city is still stuck with just a garage.

The city has already agreed to give up $6.2 million in new grant money to pay TDOT back for what it didn't build.

Both TDOT and city officials say they consider the matter closed.