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Parking problem downtown - too much of it


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#241 Veloise

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 10:22 PM

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.

...

Nope, that's where I parked. And on a whim decided to follow the heated walkway.

 

Shared this on The Salon on FB, and Kris "liked" it. Maybe the angry/helpless suburbanites (present company excepted) could benefit from how-to vids. Here's how to get yourself DT. Here's how to go exploring. Shortcuts revealed, unknown to drivers! See, it's fun, and stop whining about panhandlers spoiling your ice rink experience.



 

#242 tSlater

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 11:18 AM

As I stated in the Schuler's thread, especially in a foreign environment people will be too distracted to notise most signs.  One pretty much has to put a sign directly in their face for anyone to become aware.  Add to that, most people don't like to read.. even in the age of the internet.  (A frequent problem with computer troubleshooting is people will complain of getting an error, and when asked what that one-sentence error message was, will respond with "I don't know, I didn't read it.")  Perhaps a short voice clip, when getting the parking receipt when entering, informing them of the ramp to Monroe Center, would be helpful.

Of course, the first part of the problem is raising awareness of the parking itself.  Bigger signage, and more of it.  People aren't going to find out about it if the only signs for it are right where it already is.  Have a big sign at the end of the offramp onto Oakes.  "First Hour Free Parking -->"  ("Free 1hr Parking" might make some think they simply can't park there more than an hour.)  Another big sign at Oakes and Ionia.  "<-- First Hour Free Parking."  Give it some unique icon on the sign as well, so people don't get confused and think it's that Ellis surface lot off Ionia, and then get upset when they don't receive their first hour.



#243 GRDadof3

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 07:21 PM

Nope, that's where I parked. And on a whim decided to follow the heated walkway.

 

Shared this on The Salon on FB, and Kris "liked" it. Maybe the angry/helpless suburbanites (present company excepted) could benefit from how-to vids. Here's how to get yourself DT. Here's how to go exploring. Shortcuts revealed, unknown to drivers! See, it's fun, and stop whining about panhandlers spoiling your ice rink experience.

 

That's what I meant, you parked on that particular floor.

 

I would say that posting something on the Salon is the same as preaching to the choir.



#244 fotoman311

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:17 PM

Nope, that's where I parked. And on a whim decided to follow the heated walkway.

 

Shared this on The Salon on FB, and Kris "liked" it. Maybe the angry/helpless suburbanites (present company excepted) could benefit from how-to vids. Here's how to get yourself DT. Here's how to go exploring. Shortcuts revealed, unknown to drivers! See, it's fun, and stop whining about panhandlers spoiling your ice rink experience.

 

Needing a how-to video to find an exit on a parking ramp or to find a parking ramp seems pretty backwards.  If it were properly designed/signed so that it was easy to use in the first place, you wouldn't need a how-to.  People don't want to bother with that and they simply WON'T do it.  

 

The reason the iPhone and iPad are so popular is because they are so intuitive that you don't need a how-to video to use them.  You just use them and they work.

 

Just because there's not plentiful surface parking and parking isn't free doesn't mean it should be difficult to use or find.  I think trying to offer a good customer service experience should be a goal of Parking Services no matter what and would be a good step in improving the experience of downtown visitors who need/choose to drive.



#245 Veloise

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 10:51 PM

Needing a how-to video to find an exit on a parking ramp or to find a parking ramp seems pretty backwards.  If it were properly designed/signed so that it was easy to use in the first place, you wouldn't need a how-to.  People don't want to bother with that and they simply WON'T do it.  

 

The reason the iPhone and iPad are so popular is because they are so intuitive that you don't need a how-to video to use them.  You just use them and they work.

 

Just because there's not plentiful surface parking and parking isn't free doesn't mean it should be difficult to use or find.  I think trying to offer a good customer service experience should be a goal of Parking Services no matter what and would be a good step in improving the experience of downtown visitors who need/choose to drive.

 

Speaking of cell phones, that's what I used to create this masterpiece. Having never before parked & walked to Schuler's, on a whim I decided to document this part of the process. (I could have traveled home and returned with my hi-vis camera...and shot video from every possible parking level...and spent a lot more time on it...but that's not my job.) Heading towards the ramp from Ionia, I noticed a dearth of information to indicate that was a parking deck, the first hour is free, and the entrance is here...but I don't shoot vids while motoring.

 

Maybe TPTB follow The Salon. Maybe a parking commissioner would suggest this to Parking Services/DDA. Maybe someone will add an informative video to the information stream. One of my own MLive replies involved the concept of viewing a destination in Streetview, taking a look at the building or approach, figuring out where you are heading (that's before starting to search for the car keys). That's why I concluded my shoot by panning towards that pesky GRAM (the building that's "in the way") and the Madcap intersection.

 

The Rapid released a video explaining how to load a bicycle onto a bus's front rack. Clueless stubborn angry uninformed suburbanites playing the "don't know how to park DT" card: can be addressed.

 

Speaking of The Rapid, Peter Varga hit the "like" button.

 

When I was at the city, part of the wayfinding signage included those round maps on the walls in the parking structures. (They are attached with the clips you'd use to hang a mirror, and the one closest to the Schuler crossing had been turned sideways. I fixed it.) Still remember the then-department head telling the graphic artist to send the sign out for finishing. "Parking is in the red; they can afford it. If we spend your time doing this, it's costing us."



#246 GRDadof3

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 10:47 AM

Speaking of cell phones, that's what I used to create this masterpiece. Having never before parked & walked to Schuler's, on a whim I decided to document this part of the process. (I could have traveled home and returned with my hi-vis camera...and shot video from every possible parking level...and spent a lot more time on it...but that's not my job.) Heading towards the ramp from Ionia, I noticed a dearth of information to indicate that was a parking deck, the first hour is free, and the entrance is here...but I don't shoot vids while motoring.

 

Maybe TPTB follow The Salon. Maybe a parking commissioner would suggest this to Parking Services/DDA. Maybe someone will add an informative video to the information stream. One of my own MLive replies involved the concept of viewing a destination in Streetview, taking a look at the building or approach, figuring out where you are heading (that's before starting to search for the car keys). That's why I concluded my shoot by panning towards that pesky GRAM (the building that's "in the way") and the Madcap intersection.

 

The Rapid released a video explaining how to load a bicycle onto a bus's front rack. Clueless stubborn angry uninformed suburbanites playing the "don't know how to park DT" card: can be addressed.

 

Speaking of The Rapid, Peter Varga hit the "like" button.

 

When I was at the city, part of the wayfinding signage included those round maps on the walls in the parking structures. (They are attached with the clips you'd use to hang a mirror, and the one closest to the Schuler crossing had been turned sideways. I fixed it.) Still remember the then-department head telling the graphic artist to send the sign out for finishing. "Parking is in the red; they can afford it. If we spend your time doing this, it's costing us."

 

I wish you would drop the "suburbanite" vernacular. Anyone outside of a mile from downtown pretty much drives there and doesn't walk. It's not just people who exist outside of a magical line in space on the edge of the city legal (metes and bounds) boundary.

 

The experiment was a good start, but what you should have done is "pretend like you don't know where the Monroe Center ramp or Schuler's are." Try that experiment and videotape it. But first, figure out which highway exit to get off of to get downtown to your destination, Monroe Center. Do you take Pearl, Ottawa, College, Market? Or are you coming in via Fulton or Division? Then try to find Schuler's (which most people would probably do first, pinpoint their destination), and then subsequently try to find a parking spot nearby.



#247 Raildudes dad

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 08:03 PM

The old city ramps (all demolished) were obviously parking ramps with open areas at ground level in place of windows. They also had 2 story high signs that spelled "PARK" vertically, green letters on a white background. One had no trouble picking out where the ramps were. Todays downtown wayfinding signs while pedestrian friendly have fonts way too small for a motorist. The ramps are built to resemble storefronts so they don't stand out. (I'm not suggesting going back to the old designs but today's signage is poor). Replacing the current ramp signs with a big "P" would help.



#248 gvsusean

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 08:19 PM

This is a city not an amusement park. Tourist should research where they're going before hand and people from GR who cant find a parking ramp shouldn't be driving in the first place. Any street you turn down has parking on it... The whole idea that it is difficult is preposterous.



#249 Jippy

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:34 AM

Anytime you deploy the word "should [do something]", you have instantly lost a significant percentage of your potential market. People should also eat and drink less, exercise more, and procrastinate less often. For events with big draw, then folks will go downtown despite the inconvenience. However, if it is a marginal decision for what to eat or where to shop, then significant share of the market will choose to get elsewhere if they perceive the environment to be intimidating.

 

I would say there are two paths to follow: one make parking much easier to navigate and understand (signage with rates/availability/directions). Two, become a regional draw and people will want to be where the action is.  Hopefully we could do a bit of both. 

 

This is a city not an amusement park. Tourist should research where they're going before hand and people from GR who cant find a parking ramp shouldn't be driving in the first place. Any street you turn down has parking on it... The whole idea that it is difficult is preposterous.



#250 GRDadof3

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:41 AM

This is a city not an amusement park. Tourist should research where they're going before hand and people from GR who cant find a parking ramp shouldn't be driving in the first place. Any street you turn down has parking on it... The whole idea that it is difficult is preposterous.

 

Hardly preposterous. Anyone else remember the Arts and Entertainment Study that the DDA did back in 2005 or 06? They surveyed people downtown and people not downtown and asked them why they don't shop downtown more often. I can distinctly remember the top answers were all about parking: Parking, more parking, more convenient parking, cheaper parking.

 

Ha, I found it. It still lives on the DDA's site:

 

http://grcity.us/des...rand Rapids.pdf

 

Don't get me wrong, the last thing downtown needs is MORE parking. I agree, there is already too much parking. Most of the ramps aren't even full during the day.

 

Also keep in mind that most of the people who visit retailers during the day are Moms or Dads home with the kids, or retirees. Most of the rest of the world is working. You have to see the world through their lens. Evenings and weekends it seems like downtown is pretty much closed up.

 

Even in Ann Arbor, yes they had credit card machines for the parking meters, but the meters were pretty much all taken in the area I was heading to. I then found a surface lot owned by the city, but had to circle 3 blocks because of the one-way streets to find the entrance to the damn thing.

 

 

I've heard that several board members of the Downtown Market are concerned about parking during the busy season/weekends.



#251 Paramaribo

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 10:26 AM

Perhaps it's buried in this forum, but how much parking is managed by Ellis? It seems like they have little competition, and without competition, what incentive do they have to make one lot more attractive than other? Would consumers look for a lot if it was architecturally/visually appealing? Or if it offered additional services like car washing/detailing? I don't know. The multi-story lots are so bland and utilitarian, they're easy to miss, especially from the driver's seat.



#252 Veloise

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:00 AM

Perhaps it's buried in this forum, but how much parking is managed by Ellis? It seems like they have little competition, and without competition, what incentive do they have to make one lot more attractive than other? Would consumers look for a lot if it was architecturally/visually appealing? Or if it offered additional services like car washing/detailing? I don't know. The multi-story lots are so bland and utilitarian, they're easy to miss, especially from the driver's seat.

 

I can't answer the quantity question, but they do aim for quality, adding thousand$$ in holiday decorations to their properties. (Recalling a GRPress piece about the city's holiday parking special, and Ellis didn't like that.)

 

Also, check out their lot on Market after dusk. You could use the illumination to read the classifieds on the S-curve! Small aircraft use it as approach markings! Seriously, Ellis replied that all the bright lighting would "condition" itself and diminish to a lower candlepower.

 

This Streetview is old.

 

Found some updated images of the subject lot.

http://www.ellispark...esPageImage.jpg

 

Landscaping, street furniture, faux old-timey stree lights.

http://www.ellispark...utPageImage.jpg

 

Vehicle detailing

 

Full disclosure: I have never parked in an Ellis lot.


Edited by Veloise, 29 January 2013 - 11:24 AM.


#253 GRDadof3

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:16 AM

I can't answer the quantity question, but they do aim for quality, adding thousand$$ in holiday decorations to their properties. (Recalling a GRPress piece about the city's holiday parking special, and Ellis didn't like that.)

 

Also, check out their lot on Market after dusk. You could use the illumination to read the classifieds on the S-curve! Small aircraft use it as approach markings! Seriously, Ellis replied that all the bright lighting would "condition" itself and diminish to a lower candlepower.

 

This Streetview is old.

 

 

That lot is well signed. But I parked there for lunch one time at Bistro Bella Vita and I believe it was $5 for an hour and a half. Haven't parked there since, unless it's for a Community Foundation event where they validate parking. :)

 

Ellis is highway robbery, and one of the Ellis' sit on the parking commission.


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#254 jas49503

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:47 PM

people may complain about parking in grand rapids but I suspect that they would complain about the parking in ANY city. at least any city of any significant size.  A LOT of people are scared of not being able to find parking, traffic, being able to find the store they are looking for, etc. You can only make it so friendly before you just decide to bulldoze the entire thing and make the city one big strip mall. at some point the city has to realize that it can't be all things to all people, and shouldn't even try.  this isn't to say it shouldn't optimize the current parking situation to make it as user friendly as possible. 


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#255 GRDadof3

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 09:54 AM

I think this whole issue came up again because of Schuler's? I agree, the city can't be everything to everyone. It should bag the 30+ year campaign to revive retail downtown and just allow any businesses to lease the ground floor retail spaces. In 10 years when there's enough residents downtown, the demand for retail will push out the office users (if the market acts the way it should). Fighting market forces and manipulating supply and demand hasn't really done much to make a major impact. If tourists and convention goers want to buy trinkets, they can always shop at the Amway Grand Hotel.


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#256 wingbert

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:35 AM

To paraphrase 1 Corinthians: When I was a village, I managed as a village, I understood as a village, I thought as a
village: but when I became a city, I put away village-ish things.



#257 Veloise

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:16 PM

A little bird tells me that this topic will be a featured article soon.



#258 Jippy

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:25 PM

...I agree, the city can't be everything to everyone. It should bag the 30+ year campaign to revive retail downtown and just allow any businesses to lease the ground floor retail spaces. In 10 years when there's enough residents downtown, the demand for retail will push out the office users (if the market acts the way it should). Fighting market forces and manipulating supply and demand hasn't really done much to make a major impact. ..

 

I disagree. Downtown redevelopment is a ballet, and the entire enterprise of redeveloping downtown is a fight against market forces...market forces that have trended towards suburbanization over the last two generations. That fight has included massive amounts of public and philanthropic investments. Demanding some level of minimum commitment for the "price" of these investments is certainly not an unreasonable demand. While ground floor retail may not be the "highest and best use" in terms of the rents commanded for the location today, ground floor retail requirements adds to the vitality and attractiveness of downtown. Over the long-run, that requirement of clustered active ground floor uses should translate into more beds and desks downtown than by purely relying on today's market forces.

 

There are great examples of cities that do not have these requirements and they have suffered from it. Take a Google Streetview trip of downtown Tampa to see the alternative. Despite a stronger local and state economy, that downtown is a pedestrian wasteland. Big buildings. No ground floor activity. Few pedestrians,

 

My takeaway from this round of conversation on parking and retail are: 1) there are low-hanging improvements available to immediately elevate the parking experience, 2) we need to maintain realistic expectations of what type of retail is viable today, and 3) we need to nurture and invest in our existing retail corridors while laying the foundation as to where the true retail clusters should be located when market conditions better allow it. By doing these things, we will continue to attract additional residential and commercial development.  BTW, Milwaukee offers a great example of what quality retail could act like near their urban market. 



#259 GRDadof3

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:50 AM

I disagree. Downtown redevelopment is a ballet, and the entire enterprise of redeveloping downtown is a fight against market forces...market forces that have trended towards suburbanization over the last two generations. That fight has included massive amounts of public and philanthropic investments. Demanding some level of minimum commitment for the "price" of these investments is certainly not an unreasonable demand. While ground floor retail may not be the "highest and best use" in terms of the rents commanded for the location today, ground floor retail requirements adds to the vitality and attractiveness of downtown. Over the long-run, that requirement of clustered active ground floor uses should translate into more beds and desks downtown than by purely relying on today's market forces.

 

There are great examples of cities that do not have these requirements and they have suffered from it. Take a Google Streetview trip of downtown Tampa to see the alternative. Despite a stronger local and state economy, that downtown is a pedestrian wasteland. Big buildings. No ground floor activity. Few pedestrians,

 

My takeaway from this round of conversation on parking and retail are: 1) there are low-hanging improvements available to immediately elevate the parking experience, 2) we need to maintain realistic expectations of what type of retail is viable today, and 3) we need to nurture and invest in our existing retail corridors while laying the foundation as to where the true retail clusters should be located when market conditions better allow it. By doing these things, we will continue to attract additional residential and commercial development.  BTW, Milwaukee offers a great example of what quality retail could act like near their urban market. 

 

While I agree with what you are saying, it's not really working. And hasn't been working right for 30+ years. Yes, there have been a lot of retail successes downtown lately (MoDiv, Nate's bike shop, etc.) there are still a lot of "broken teeth."

 

If you go to a city that has a really great downtown retail district, it most likely has been a good retail district for a long time (survived the mass suburbanization of retail).



#260 GRDadof3

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:22 AM

A little bird tells me that this topic will be a featured article soon.

 

Oh yay. I was just thinking this discussion needed some good MLive trollership.


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