St. Paul officials will pay $300,000 for consultants to help them decide whether to save the aging RiverCentre parking ramp or tear it down and start again.

The city eventually wants to issue a request for proposals to gauge interest in developing the parking ramp site, at 150 W. Kellogg Blvd. downtown, Planning and Economic Development Director Bruce Corrie said.

Before doing that, he said, the city needs to know more about the ramp’s condition and the potential costs of building a new structure.

Of the $300,000, $75,000 will go to a technical adviser, $100,000 will pay for a structural analysis and $125,000 will pay for design work, Corrie said.

The Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), which is made up of City Council members, approved the expenditure Wednesday afternoon.

The city has felt renewed urgency to deal with the parking ramp since May, when a slab of concrete fell from the ceiling onto a parked car. Mayor Melvin Carter ordered the ramp closed, and it didn’t fully reopen until November.

Visit St. Paul, the convention and visitors bureau that operates the ramp, spent more than $2 million on ramp repairs.

Located across the street from the St. Paul RiverCentre and the Xcel Energy Center, the 1,600-stall ramp provides parking for conventions, concerts, games and other big events downtown.

City officials have unsuccessfully sought state bonding dollars to tear down the nearly 50-year-old structure and build a bigger facility in its place.

Last year, the city made a $58 million bonding request, but lawmakers approved only $5 million for demolition.