Any city of the first class is hereby authorized to own, purchase, construct, equip, lease, or operate within such city offstreet motor vehicle parking facilities for the use of the general public. This does not include the power to engage, directly or indirectly, in the sale of gasoline, oil, or other merchandise or in the furnishing of any service other than that of parking motor vehicles as provided in this section. Such city shall have the authority to acquire by grant, contract, or purchase or through the condemnation of property, as provided by law for such acquisition, all real or personal property, including a site or sites on which to construct the facilities necessary or convenient in the carrying out of this grant of power. Before any such city may commence a program to construct, purchase, or acquire by other means a proposed offstreet parking facility or facilities, notice shall be given, by publication in a legal newspaper in or of general circulation in the city once each week for not less than three weeks, inviting application for private ownership and operation of offstreet parking facilities. If no application or applications have been received or, if received, the application or applications have been disapproved by the city council within ninety days from the first date of publication, then such city may proceed in the exercise of the powers granted under this section.