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Parking problem downtown - too much of it


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#221 RegalTDP

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:43 AM

Has anyone in here been reading the huge debate on dt parking on mlive. I got a huge kick out of it!

 

 

You mean this?

http://www.mlive.com...tml#incart_2box

 

Oy vey.  I would never think of anything that takes place on MLive as reaching the level of "debate." :rolleyes:

 

I agree with the Fehsenfelds.  Every time I went to Schuler I found an open meter on Fountain.  Any time of day, any day of the week.  That's how dead Fountain Street is.  Or maybe I'm just lucky.

 

Some people just think paying for parking is a scam and will never do it.  Some people are embarrassed with their parallel parking skills and won't admit it.  But overall I think some people just don't want to go downtown because they're used to suburban environments, whereas downtown makes them uncomfortable, and they use parking as an excuse.  Only a person under duress could possibly get lost in a street layout as simple as GR's; or be thrown off by a traffic circle; or not see the multitude of parking spaces everywhere; or be willing to walk across a Meijer parking lot the size of a football field, but not a single city block.  Intelligent adults (and even some the smarter monkeys) are able to do these things.  Somehow the people who can't tend to overpopulate the comments sections of MLive.

 

And that's my psychoanalytical dissertation of the day.

 

Sorry I'm being pedantic to the Urbanplanet choir.  There were just a lot of dumb comments in the link.


Edited by RegalTDP, 23 January 2013 - 10:00 PM.

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#222 Veloise

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:27 AM

Has anyone in here been reading the huge debate on dt parking on mlive. I got a huge kick out of it!

Read it?!? I'm in with both feet. Check it out, folks, it can only get better.

 

Would love to suggest that the one lost soul might have trouble finding the car keys. How does that one even get DT? (Or pass the drivers license re-up test? Wait, did I just type that??)

 

I "didn't know" there was a bookstore DT is another great line. Must.resist.urge to suggest that books/reading/comprehension are not at the forethought...


Edited by Veloise, 23 January 2013 - 11:29 AM.


#223 lighthousedave

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 05:36 PM

Recently my wife has made me swear that whenever I read MLive, that I will NOT scroll down to read the comments section.  It is too hard on my blood pressure, regardless of the topic.  :shok:



#224 joeDowntown

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:35 PM

If Mlive ran an article announcing that someone found the cure for all disease, Mlive commenters would find a reason to be pissed off. :) I agree. I generally can't scroll down as my blood boils when I read the comments.

 

Joe

 

Recently my wife has made me swear that whenever I read MLive, that I will NOT scroll down to read the comments section.  It is too hard on my blood pressure, regardless of the topic.  :shok:



#225 GRDadof3

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 09:45 AM

I think some of the comments are legitimate. If you created a software that you thought was the best in the world, and easy to use, but many of your customers couldn't figure out how to use it, or thought it was too expensive for what they got, or were intimidated by it, you'd have a losing business formula. And the answer wouldn't be to market it more, or give people a free trial....

 

Unfortunately I think Grand Rapids is stuck in that mid-sized city downtown retail conundrum. Comparisons to Chicago are silly on so many levels. In fact, I absolutely loath parking in Chicago. If you park in one of those surface lots, you have people (shifty looking people many times) driving your car within inches of other cars and triple and quadruple parking them. You leave your car and you wonder if it will still be there when you return. The ramps are $50/day. We've actually (as a family) switched to staying at hotels in the Chicago burbs (where we can get a suite for way cheaper than a tiny bunkroom at the downtown Sheraton with no charge for overnight parking), and then we ride the Metra into downtown (which is like $3/person). Or we'll take the South Shore Line from Michigan City.

 

Those options aren't really realistic here. No one would park-n-ride on a train to downtown GR to go shopping. It's not a destination. Then you have downtown shopping areas that have free parking, like Holland, Gaslight Village, East Hills, Traverse City, etc. that are pretty successful.

 

Someone please figure out this riddle and you can be a millionaire.



#226 Jippy

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:44 AM

Retail takes many stripes, but let's simply place into two types-- destination and service. Service retail is primarily for the benefit of the residents and offices nearby, and probably where downtown can excel -- drug store, coffee shops, dry cleaning, convenience store, etc. 

 

All other shopping most often requires a massive population nearby, of which will not happen downtown in the near future, or a contiguous strip of retail that has a rational parking layout. Here is where the city can improve.  Long-term, the city needs to expand the contiguous retail corridor beyond just Monroe (BTW, I am glad they disallowed the dentist). 

 

Putting on my suburbanite hat, parking anxiety is primarily generated by two primary factors: ease and transparency of options.

 

Ease can be improved by variable parking rates that ensure convenient parking available is always available. Ease of parking garage can also be improved by removing sign clutter and ensuring that parking garage signage is prominently displayed. Entrances to parking garages should also be retrofitted to signify where the entrance is. In most instances, the parking garage entrance is minimized and uninviting. The design should say "Hey! Park Here!"

 

Regarding transparency, anxiety can be reduced by clearly displaying availability and the price of parking at the garage prior to entering the garage itself.  A variable sign at the entrance saying:

  • Parking Spaces Available: 182
  • Price: 1 Hr Free / $5 per hr after 
  • Credit Cards accepted

provides transparency to a first-time user, so that they know what they are getting prior to turning off the street.  

 

Ultimately, there will need to be a new location downtown that has a contiguous strip of retail. Ionia connecting Fulton and the new market might be the logical location, but it will require ensuring new development provides amenities and diversity beyond bars/restaurants...even if it means saying no from time to time.


Edited by Jippy, 24 January 2013 - 10:44 AM.


#227 GRDadof3

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 11:19 AM

Retail takes many stripes, but let's simply place into two types-- destination and service. Service retail is primarily for the benefit of the residents and offices nearby, and probably where downtown can excel -- drug store, coffee shops, dry cleaning, convenience store, etc. 

 

All other shopping most often requires a massive population nearby, of which will not happen downtown in the near future, or a contiguous strip of retail that has a rational parking layout. Here is where the city can improve.  Long-term, the city needs to expand the contiguous retail corridor beyond just Monroe (BTW, I am glad they disallowed the dentist). 

 

Putting on my suburbanite hat, parking anxiety is primarily generated by two primary factors: ease and transparency of options.

 

Ease can be improved by variable parking rates that ensure convenient parking available is always available. Ease of parking garage can also be improved by removing sign clutter and ensuring that parking garage signage is prominently displayed. Entrances to parking garages should also be retrofitted to signify where the entrance is. In most instances, the parking garage entrance is minimized and uninviting. The design should say "Hey! Park Here!"

 

Regarding transparency, anxiety can be reduced by clearly displaying availability and the price of parking at the garage prior to entering the garage itself.  A variable sign at the entrance saying:

  • Parking Spaces Available: 182
  • Price: 1 Hr Free / $5 per hr after 
  • Credit Cards accepted

provides transparency to a first-time user, so that they know what they are getting prior to turning off the street.  

 

Ultimately, there will need to be a new location downtown that has a contiguous strip of retail. Ionia connecting Fulton and the new market might be the logical location, but it will require ensuring new development provides amenities and diversity beyond bars/restaurants...even if it means saying no from time to time.

 

 

I do agree that signage could be better. One thing about downtown Chicago, you can see the big obnoxious PARKING or PARK HERE signs from blocks away. I can't even tell you how many people I tell that I park in the Monroe Center ramp for an hour free every day, and they ask "where is that?" These are not stupid people either. I say "it's the ramp above Leo's, you enter next to Louis Benton Steakhouse off of Ionia" Their response: "I had no idea that was parking above Leo's."

 

At least dozen people I know have said that or something similar.

 

It is kind of strange that it's a Monroe Center ramp, but you enter off of Ionia after taking Ottawa and the Louis and then Ionia, and then once you park, you take the stairs down to Ionia, or the stairs down to Ottawa, or maybe if you're lucky you'll find the hallway that leads out to Monroe Center. It should be called the Monroe Center ramp that isn't really on Monroe Center.

 

As I said, if it were a software program, it'd be more of a piece of shit than Facebook is.

 

Add into that the challenge of parallel parking for most people. You have to be somewhat bold because you are actually stopping traffic and actually backing up into traffic. Then you have to fish for coins if you don't use parkmobile. And who keeps coins around anymore? Who even carries cash anymore? And I have to remember correctly, but do the meters even tell you how much time you get for how much money? 1 Quarter equals 1 hour?

 

As some of the commenters said, if your experience with going downtown is in the evenings, you're often confronted with $10 event parking. I won't pay event parking. I purposely will drive around and around until I find a free meter. Call me cheap, but $10 for parking when you're just going out for a $50 dinner is a big percentage. And I'm someone who knows that most of the meters are free after 6:00. I've been asked a ton of times while walking around downtown in the evenings, by people standing at the meter: "Do you know if I have to put money in the meter after 5:00?"

 

Or I'll watch people shovel coins into a meter at 7:00 at night, and I'll say "meters are free after 6:00." And they say "Shoot! It doesn't say that anywhere."

 

Two words: USER UNFRIENDLY

 

I have actually heard from higher ups at the city that, when they schedule business lunches with people who don't work downtown, they hold their meetings out at restaurants in East Hills or Creston or elsewhere, so they don't have to explain where and how to park. Of course, these people won't say these things publicly...



#228 RegalTDP

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 05:16 PM

I agree with everything suggested that would make parking more user-friendly.  I hadn't thought of it before, but yeah, the signage could be better.  I remember one time circling around the Monroe Center ramp before I found the entrance.  While coin-fed meters aren't THAT antiquated, I would say it's about time for GR to upgrade its meters with credit card swipes.

 

GRDad not paying $10 for event parking doesn't make him a "cheapskate," it just means he pays the cost of parking in time rather than money.  I'm the kind of person who would just fork over the $10 and be done with it, but that's me.  Whether it's time or money, it's still parking at a cost.

 

That being said, I still believe parking is a minor factor in growing retail downtown.  Downtown parking will always be more challenging (though hardly insurmountable) than at the Mall, more user-friendliness won't change that, and people will always complain about it.  I'm in Los Angeles, and I complain about parking, but I still do it.  People complain about road diets, but they still drive on Division.  When people have somewhere to be, they'll get there.  User-friendly features are better for everyone, but trying to appease the suburban mall mentality espoused by MLive commenters will not give us the downtown we want.

 

Jippy is right-on about "destination" vs. "service" retail, and there's no better illustration than Schuler Books.  People went there for the cafe, not so much for the books.  People seemed to think a downtown Schuler was going to be a destination in and of itself, and that would bring new shoppers from the suburbs to Monroe Center.  But it doesn't work that way.  I'm not buying my coffee at a downtown Biggby when there's another one down the road, and people won't take special trips to go to a distant Schuler when there's one closer.

 

Like Jippy said, "destination" retail needs a nearby population.  I mean, we're working on getting more residents with purchasing power downtown.  We're working on bringing in out-of-town visitors, whether via DeVos Place, Medical Mile, or just business travel.  If we're always going to think of downtown retail as competing with the suburbs for their consumer base, we'll always fail.  Downtown needs its own consumer base, of new residents and out-of-town visitors.  Then we start building a shopping destination.

 

Look at Michigan Avenue.  It requires a densely populated Near North/Lincoln Park neighborhood to sustain it.  People who live near Schaumburg shop in Schaumburg.  Parking doesn't really factor into why people shop at either destination.


Edited by RegalTDP, 25 January 2013 - 10:57 AM.


#229 Veloise

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 06:45 PM

Here's the GRBJ take on it.



#230 fotoman311

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:50 PM

Just came across this from Missoula that seems relevant to the "user-friendly" part of things.

 

http://instagram.com/p/UEnEgiwXFJ/



#231 Raildudes dad

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:53 PM

And you have people like my wife. Grew up in a small town north of here.  Won't even attempt to parallel park after I showed her the little 1/3 trick to do it. (I can teach :shades: I showed my 16 year old daughter when it came to time for driver's training and she can do it like a pro. :thumbsup:) My wife doesn't like parking ramps even when I am driving. She sure won't use them when she's driving. We enjoy dining at Leo's occasioanlly and she would rather I find a surface lot or on street parking rather than use the ramp above :dunno:



#232 gvsusean

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:17 AM

I have an idea. It doesn't really belong in this thread but it does belong to the current conversation. I was thinking, how about not having one giant central police station and creating many small stations (think in the movies, small town station with 16 officers). Have a station in each area i.e. one in heartside, west side, NoMo, etc.. The many stations would promote police presence and walkabaility for the officers. Then have one larger station somewhere that the baddies could be put away for the night. 
Then, try to market the old station to the likes of IKEA or some other large retailer that is not in the area. That would provide an anchor  retailer as well a better police presence in DTGR 


Edited by gvsusean, 25 January 2013 - 01:19 AM.


#233 wingbert

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 11:16 AM

I have an idea. It doesn't really belong in this thread but it does belong to the current conversation. I was thinking, how about not having one giant central police station and creating many small stations (think in the movies, small town station with 16 officers). Have a station in each area i.e. one in heartside, west side, NoMo, etc.. The many stations would promote police presence and walkabaility for the officers. Then have one larger station somewhere that the baddies could be put away for the night. 
Then, try to market the old station to the likes of IKEA or some other large retailer that is not in the area. That would provide an anchor  retailer as well a better police presence in DTGR 

 

I thought that a precinct model was proposed several years ago and the idea was panned - don't remember if it was voters or the city commission or what.  Did that really happen or did I just imagine it?



#234 SupercityGR

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:50 PM

I always thought above leos was just police parking till just recently



#235 GRDadof3

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 05:50 PM

I agree with everything suggested that would make parking more user-friendly.  I hadn't thought of it before, but yeah, the signage could be better.  I remember one time circling around the Monroe Center ramp before I found the entrance.  While coin-fed meters aren't THAT antiquated, I would say it's about time for GR to upgrade its meters with credit card swipes.

 

GRDad not paying $10 for event parking doesn't make him a "cheapskate," it just means he pays the cost of parking in time rather than money.  I'm the kind of person who would just fork over the $10 and be done with it, but that's me.  Whether it's time or money, it's still parking at a cost.

 

That being said, I still believe parking is a minor factor in growing retail downtown.  Downtown parking will always be more challenging (though hardly insurmountable) than at the Mall, more user-friendliness won't change that, and people will always complain about it.  I'm in Los Angeles, and I complain about parking, but I still do it.  People complain about road diets, but they still drive on Division.  When people have somewhere to be, they'll get there.  User-friendly features are better for everyone, but trying to appease the suburban mall mentality espoused by MLive commenters will not give us the downtown we want.

 

Jippy is right-on about "destination" vs. "service" retail, and there's no better illustration than Schuler Books.  People went there for the cafe, not so much for the books.  People seemed to think a downtown Schuler was going to be a destination in and of itself, and that would bring new shoppers from the suburbs to Monroe Center.  But it doesn't work that way.  I'm not buying my coffee at a downtown Biggby when there's another one down the road, and people won't take special trips to go to a distant Schuler when there's one closer.

 

Like Jippy said, "destination" retail needs a nearby population.  I mean, we're working on getting more residents with purchasing power downtown.  We're working on bringing in out-of-town visitors, whether via DeVos Place, Medical Mile, or just business travel.  If we're always going to think of downtown retail as competing with the suburbs for their consumer base, we'll always fail.  Downtown needs its own consumer base, of new residents and out-of-town visitors.  Then we start building a shopping destination.

 

Look at Michigan Avenue.  It requires a densely populated Near North/Lincoln Park neighborhood to sustain it.  People who live near Schaumburg shop in Schaumburg.  Parking doesn't really factor into why people shop at either destination.

 

People come from all over the country to shop on Michigan Ave in Chicago. Many people are there for conventions, for business, for tourism. My brother lived on Ohio in River North, and I can tell you, most of the people he knew in River North didn't set foot on Michigan Avenue (too many tourists and people who don't know where they're going, not watching where they're going, looking up at skyscrapers, etc..). Now a lot of downtown Chicago workers and residents go to State St (which is being revitalized with retail) and not Michigan Avenue.

 

Downtown GR is about 6500 residents away from supporting it's own (good) retail environment. That's the general consensus of retail experts (10,000 people needed to support a retail corridor). Hence the downtown residential goal.

 

We'll have to agree to disagree on the $10 event parking.



#236 Veloise

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 06:40 PM

Today I was DT for a brief event, used the Monroe Center structure. Decided to take a look into the parking challenge.



#237 tSlater

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 10:32 AM

A video of you walking down the walkway.  Wonderful.  But what's the point of it all?



#238 RegalTDP

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 12:46 PM

People come from all over the country to shop on Michigan Ave in Chicago. Many people are there for conventions, for business, for tourism. My brother lived on Ohio in River North, and I can tell you, most of the people he knew in River North didn't set foot on Michigan Avenue (too many tourists and people who don't know where they're going, not watching where they're going, looking up at skyscrapers, etc..). Now a lot of downtown Chicago workers and residents go to State St (which is being revitalized with retail) and not Michigan Avenue.

 

Downtown GR is about 6500 residents away from supporting it's own (good) retail environment. That's the general consensus of retail experts (10,000 people needed to support a retail corridor). Hence the downtown residential goal.

 

We'll have to agree to disagree on the $10 event parking.

 

OK, maybe that was a bad example, but the point still stands - neither Michigan Ave nor State St are in direct competition with suburban shopping centers for suburban shoppers.  Whether it's tourists on Michigan or townies on State, it's all organic foot traffic.  Likewise, we shouldn't expect downtown GR to compete directly with the malls for their foot traffic, either.  We're on the same page, I'm sure.

 

As for event parking, I guess it's saps like me that allow them to get away with charging $10, huh? :whistling:



#239 joeDowntown

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 06:25 PM

I agree with better signage. Something like the airport has that tells how many spaces are available, price, etc. I'd love to see something that was functional and aesthetically pleasing. Easy to identify, uniquely urban (maybe a nod to yesteryear). 

 

When I was in Singapore, I thought they had brilliant parking ramps. Not only did it tell you the price and quantity of parking available, when you were in the ramp, each parking spot had a red or green light over it indicating whether it was open or occupied. It made parking a breeze as you could immediately see which spots were open as you drove through the ramp. 

 

Joe



#240 GRDadof3

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 10:14 PM

Today I was DT for a brief event, used the Monroe Center structure. Decided to take a look into the parking challenge.

 

You assume that someone would be parked on that floor. If you park on any floor other than the 1st floor, you'd most likely take the stairs or elevator down to the ground floor, where the sign to Monroe Center via that hallway would not be visible.

 

I'm not sure why people continue to fight the "ease of use" theory. It's almost comical. If you make parking any harder, you'd have a trifecta (inferior product, high price, more complicated).

 

I was in Ann Arbor this past week, a place where you would think they'd have a mad hatred for the "common man" and his paltry parking needs and use of the dreaded automobile. Instead, about every 4 parking meters had an e-park machine where you could pay for your meter using a debit card. No need to sign up for a ParkMobile account (you could sign up for e-park if you wanted to, but I was just there for the day and downtown for 2 hours), no need to fish for coins, nothin. You also got a receipt that allowed you to renew your parking at any e-park machine.

 

What would make that system even better would be to ask the user to enter their mobile number, send them a text when parking was almost expired, and allow people to just click "Y" if they wanted to renew. ParkMobile is great, but it makes you wait until your time expires, and you have to call back in to the system to start a new parking session. I actually got a ticket in the 1 minute between sessions and fought it (and won).






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