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Parking problem downtown - too much of it

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Posted

This is to piggy-back on RapidGrowthMedia's article, Is 10,000+ parking spots enough.

For those of you who don't check in to the Transit Thread, here is a little graphic showing just how much space in downtown is devoted to our own little car "terminals". Space set aside specifically to store automobiles all day (or at least most of the day). We have a parking problem downtown alright. The perception that there is not enough of it, and yet there is way too much of it. Imagine if even 1/2 of this land were able to be converted to non-parking use (residential, commercial, retail, parks, plazas). The bigger question is, "how do we provide this much parking space to the next wave of downtown inhabitants that are vital to creating a vibrant urban core in Grand Rapids?".

Yet, one or two light rail stations could provide "terminals" for most of these same "drivers" downtown, in about 50,000 square feet of space.

Red outlines are surface parking lots, blue outlines are parking ramps or proposed parking ramps. There are even many small lots I missed on this.

Downtown and Heartside area

405893555_c6dbf73ded_o.jpg

West Side

405953360_33621313f0_o.jpg

Monroe North

405965498_2c5552a22c_o.jpg

East side of CBD and St Mary's area

405987228_d1266abaf4_o.jpg

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Posted

:shok: i had no idea.... can u imagine what we could build on this virtual blank slate

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Posted

:shok: i had no idea.... can u imagine what we could build on this virtual blank slate

First you have to build a fast, efficient, easy-to-use, all encompassing mass transit system to get people to this downtown "terminal", or your customers (downtown business owners, colleges, hotels, residents, etc.) will revolt, pack up and move out to the burbs. But seriously, the parking commission reported to the city commission not long ago that parking downtown has reached "crisis levels". They ain't kiddin. And some people say Grand Rapids is not ready for mass transit. :blink:

I wonder if the Area 4/5 developers could make the numbers work better if they didn't have to replace all those DASH lot spaces? I wonder if Jack Buchanan's WAM site development would have worked if he didn't have to include an underground parking garage? I wonder if the Rowe Hotel could be redeveloped sooner if they didn't need so many parking spaces?

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Posted (edited)

how about this to solve sprawl, mass transit, and parking issues........(taking cues from London) A massive car ownership tax for metro GR i.e. anyone who works/lives and has a car in GR would have to pay, and not a small amount lets say 1000 a year. The money generated could fund mass transit (prob. make it free) people would want to live by these hubs creating density in DTGR and the decimation of cars DT would free up the lots for all the new apartments/condos/retail

Edited by gvsusean

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Posted

how about this to solve sprawl, mass transit, and parking issues........(taking cues from London) A massive car ownership tax for metro GR i.e. anyone who works/lives and has a car in GR would have to pay, and not a small amount lets say 1000 a year. The money generated could fund mass transit (prob. make it free) people would want to live by these hubs creating density in DTGR and the decimation of cars DT would free up the lots for all the new apartments/condos/retail

$1000 per car? You want to talk about a revolt. People don't even like to pay Grand Rapids City Income Tax of 1% and purposely either locate their businesses outside the city or choose not to live/work in the city. No offense, but that's a "Detroit solution" to a problem. I know I've said this many times before, but how about a local sales tax of 1 cent that would cost the average taxpayer $60/year, that would fund a metro-wide transit system, including much of the operating costs (fares would be extremely low, and possibly even free for the first couple of years)?

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Posted (edited)

how about this to solve sprawl, mass transit, and parking issues........(taking cues from London) A massive car ownership tax for metro GR i.e. anyone who works/lives and has a car in GR would have to pay, and not a small amount lets say 1000 a year. The money generated could fund mass transit (prob. make it free) people would want to live by these hubs creating density in DTGR and the decimation of cars DT would free up the lots for all the new apartments/condos/retail

The last thing this state needs is more taxes, especially $1,000! :shok:

I like GRDad's plan.

I've never thought parking to be a major issue in terms of downtown itself. In fact there's almost too much parking, especially surface lots. However, the west side leaves a little less than to be desired. In order to go to Monte's I had to park all the way over by GVSU. Even though there is a surface lot just down the street its owned by another (older clientel assume) bar and they sit out at night and make sure that only the people parking in the lot are customers of that particular bar. The other problem which needs solving is that much of the parking which does exist is very restrictive as to who can park there. During the day lots such as the Dash lots are full of GV and CC students but at night they are virtually empty. It may be 'okay' to park there but I'd rather park in place where I know 100% I'm not going to get towed/ticketed.

The city just needs to eliminate surface lots all together and push for a consolidation of parking areas into a limited number of multi-level parking structures. These strucutures could easily be designed to blend in with the downtown fabric as well as be mixed use. In terms of sheer size the areas that most would walk downtown is not that large at all, throw in some more on the street parking and really only need probably 4 or 5 multi-level strucutres strategically placed to serve the entire central city district.

Edited by j3shafer

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Posted

The last thing this state needs is more taxes, especially $1,000! :shok:

I like GRDad's plan.

I've never thought parking to be a major issue in terms of downtown itself. In fact there's almost too much parking, especially surface lots. However, the west side leaves a little less than to be desired. In order to go to Monte's I had to park all the way over by GVSU. Even though there is a surface lot just down the street its owned by another (older clientel assume) bar and they sit out at night and make sure that only the people parking in the lot are customers of that particular bar.

The city just needs to eliminate surface lots all together and push for a consolidation of parking areas into a limited number of multi-level parking structures. These strucutures could easily be designed to blend in with the downtown fabric as well as be mixed use. In terms of sheer size the areas that most would walk downtown is not that large at all, throw in some more on the street parking and really only need probably 4 or 5 multi-level strucutres strategically placed to serve the entire central city district.

I think building parking ramps is not solving the prob. it just temp. fixes it..... the prob is the car itself, that is why I said a car tax would relieve the need of parking all together, And Dad I doubt a CAR tax would be a Detroit solution (GM would hang the commis. who brought it up) :) .... If all these condos/apartments keep getting built and even half have cars are streets will become overwhelmed and our air will be nasty making people flee back out to the burbs. eliminate the cars !!!! :ph34r:

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Posted

Thank you GRDad! In the face of this proof, can we now officially shoot anyone who says that there is a parking problem in downtown Grand Rapids? Up with mass transit in Grand Rapids!

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Posted (edited)

Thank you GRDad! In the face of this proof, can we now officially shoot anyone who says that there is a parking problem in downtown Grand Rapids? Up with mass transit in Grand Rapids!

But there is a parking problem. :)

This is an interesting topic. The concept of fueling our growth with space to park a car doesn't seem sustainable.

Edited by Rizzo

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Posted (edited)

I think building parking ramps is not solving the prob. it just temp. fixes it..... the prob is the car itself, that is why I said a car tax would relieve the need of parking all together, And Dad I doubt a CAR tax would be a Detroit solution (GM would hang the commis. who brought it up) :) .... If all these condos/apartments keep getting built and even half have cars are streets will become overwhelmed and our air will be nasty making people flee back out to the burbs. eliminate the cars !!!! :ph34r:

I completely understand what your saying and where your coming from but as far as the 'getting rid of the car' issue is concerned I tend to be a bit of a pessimist. Until GR has a full fledged running mass transit system like the metro in Washington that runs out into the burbs, cars will always be an issue.

We want people to come into Grand Rapids to shop yet we don't want all of the cars. Under current circumstances we can't have it both ways. I know a lot of people are going to believe that lines out to the burbs will only promote living outside of the city however, I think that there is enough issues outside of transportation which is pushing growth inward. The real challenge is in designing the line so it only serves already populated areas and not running it out to the middle of nowhere for prospective growth.

Edited by j3shafer

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Posted

Dang...all those lots are insane.

It would be cool to see Grand Rapids compared to other cities in terms of surface lots and ramps...in a map like DAD did.

I am trying to remember downtown Seattle...they have some surface lots near the baseball, football stadiums and Seattle Center but other than that not too many lots. No really big decks either...only one I can think of. They have an awesome bus system but nothing more than that. Almost every downtown parcel is taken by actual buildings with people in them.

Grand Rapids CAN do better in terms of public transit...people need to change.

The thread title should be "Driving problem downtown"

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Posted

Rizzo is right, there is a "parking" problem downtown. Many people in Grand Rapids have never been exposed to mass transit, have never ridden the bus, probably don't even know where there are any bus stops. I don't know that it will ever change.

However, many light rail lines, from Portland to Salt Lake City to Minneapolis, have gained 60%+ of their riders from people who have never ridden mass transit before (). If planned correctly, it's "cool" enough and efficient enough to get people out of their cars.

j3schafer, your idea about consolidated parking garages has been the strategy downtown for 10+ years now, and it's not going to work much longer. Check out all the "blue" squares on my maps, those are parking ramps.

As I mentioned in the transit thread, downtown will soon reach a "plateau of growth" and economic forces will stop any more development downtown. I'd say if it's not happening already (minus the health-related construction on the hill), it will happen in less than 5 years. Ask any commercial realtor downtown how overpriced land is getting because it's getting squeezed on all sides by parking needs, or how many development ideas are languishing because of parking requirements.

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Posted

The other problem which needs solving is that much of the parking which does exist is very restrictive as to who can park there.

Bingo! And in that respect GRDad's pictures, while impressive, are misleading. That doesn't mean that there isn't too much parking downtown (or at least too much real estate devoted to parking), though. My continued greivance is that if I want to run downtown to shop or grab food to go, I'm sure as heck not going to pay $7 to park in a ramp for 10 minutes, and I honestly can never find any street parking. So in that respect, there is a parking problem. One that light rail would fix beautifully, I might add.

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Posted

I'm sure as heck not going to pay $7 to park in a ramp for 10 minutes, and I honestly can never find any street parking. So in that respect, there is a parking problem.

What ramp costs $7 for 10 minutes or even an hour? Granted a lot of ramps have "Event" parking for that price at night, but even on event evenings, you can ask to have a ticket at the booth and pay regular rates for shorter time intervals.

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Posted

Holy hell! That is some nice work GrDadof3! Its going on my office door!

The idea that there is never enough parking downtown has always irked me. I agree with j3shafer that a lot of this parking is for one office, building, condo unit, whatever, and many of these places sit empty 2/3 of the day. There must be a way to implement some kind of shared parking policy downtown. "From 7am to 6 PM, parking in this lot is for tenants of X building. After six, its metered. If you leave your car there, it will be towed!" I don't know how realistic that is though.

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Posted

Bingo! And in that respect GRDad's pictures, while impressive, are misleading. That doesn't mean that there isn't too much parking downtown (or at least too much real estate devoted to parking), though. My continued greivance is that if I want to run downtown to shop or grab food to go, I'm sure as heck not going to pay $7 to park in a ramp for 10 minutes, and I honestly can never find any street parking. So in that respect, there is a parking problem. One that light rail would fix beautifully, I might add.

Well, "misleading" might be a strong word beergeek. :D

I didn't contend that all these parking spaces were available wholesale to the public. Just that this is how much land is currently devoted to automobile storage. Here's another analysis for shock value.

In this VIDEO called The High Cost of Free Parking by Dr. Donald Shoup, Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA, he talks about the true cost of owning and operating a motor vehicle. He mentions the word "terminals" (as in rail terminal) for your car, which basically consist of all the places needed to store your car for much of the day. That might include your driveway, garage, parking space at work, parking at the store. The two main ones where YOU alone have "terminals" devoted to you as a driver are your driveway/garage, and your parking space at work (if you work outside the home).

If you take the estimated 30,000 workers and students who drive into downtown daily, using the average parking space of 9' x 20' (zoned by the city), then these 30,000 cars require 5,400,000 square feet of "land" to park on. Some of this comes in the form of parking ramps to preserve at least some of the land, but much of it comes in the form of surface lots. 5,400,000 square feet equates to about 123 acres, and would cover much of the area that we call "downtown" if laid out in surface lots:

405706036_e153e6b5d4_o.jpg

(burgundy is the 16 acre riverfront property, red is the amount of parking needed for downtown workers and students, blue is the ITP station and a make believe Seward light rail station).

So 5,400,000 square feet are needed to handle 30,000 cars a day (1 per driver)

In comparison, the ITP tent is about 30,000 square feet, and the average light rail station is about 22,000 square feet:

405710391_cceac33c41_o.jpg

52,000 square feet of space that can easily handle not only 30,000 workers and students/day, but probably at least double that as downtown grows. That 52,000 square feet of space required for mass transit "terminals", as opposed to 5,400,000 car "terminals", is about 1%.

123 acres at a value of $2 Million/acre equates to $246 Million.

It's mind-boggling how much land downtown is being "wasted". And don't forget, the city is competing against developers and business owners downtown for land to provide parking.

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Posted

Great work GRdadof3!

It seems like nearly everytime i go downtown at night most of the surface lots are full, all of the free spots are full, and people are streaming into the ramps.

I cringe when i have to pay $8-$10 to park, with no suitable alternative.

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Posted

...and people I know complain because there is not enough/convenient parking downtown. Interesting visuals. Nice work. It would be interesting to get the lots numbered and know the exclusivity and or rates for each lot.

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Posted

on event evenings, you can ask to have a ticket at the booth and pay regular rates for shorter time intervals.

$%*#! Really? I never knew that. And "event parking" is a crock as Ellis thinks there's an "event" every night of the week after 5pm.

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Posted

I'd be interested to see how many of those lots are restricted lots....i.e. Dash Lots, GVSU lots, GRCC lots, Hospital lots, etc.

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Posted

So, I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but.... :P

Grand Rapids does have a parking problem. I had customers in from out of state and they went downtown one night to eat. They said the next morning: "Yeah, it looked like a nice downtown. We couldn't find any place to park, though, so we ended up just eating on 28th street instead." So, there you have it, a problem b/c people didn't spend $ in the core. Because we don't have enough spaces? No, but b/c people either aren't willing to pay 6.50 for parking or because they don't know where the ramps and lots are. Would buses help? Doubt it for out-of-towners b/c they probably have the same aversion to mass transit that most GR people seem to have. However, I think trolleys/street cars/light rail would work...it's that whole "tourist" type feel to them that just attracts people, I believe. In my perfect world, there would be lots a few miles out of downtown and trolleys/streetcars/light rail would run from them FOR FREE (parking would cost, but the rail would be free.) This would encourage people to move into the core b/c they could ride for free, people would be able to pay for parking at the same rate since it cost less outside downtown (and the savings would pay for the light rail/streetcars.) Even bussing would see an increase, I bet, because we'd have more public transportation which results in more convenience/flexability. I'd also encourage MUCH more on-street parking....those spaces are more visible and if there are enough, you can just park on the street right in front of the place you are headed. We don't need 2 lanes of traffic on every road in downtown...traffic isn't that bad.

Ok, flame away! :D

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Posted

I'd be interested to see how many of those lots are restricted lots....i.e. Dash Lots, GVSU lots, GRCC lots, Hospital lots, etc.

Here is a map showing the city's parking commission controlled lots (DASH, ramps and surface lots).

http://www.grand-rapids.mi.us/index.pl?binobjid=3688

The problem is is that it's impossible to provide convenient parking for everyone everywhere downtown without completely obliterating half of the "land" downtown. Obliterating half the land downtown sucks the life right out of downtown. We all need to move away from the parking exclusivity/availability/shared use arguments. You'll never make it work over the long term.

Also, think about this. In the current setup, if a development is planned for a surface lot, not only do the spaces on the surface lot have to be replaced, spaces have to be made available for the new workers/students/residents/shoppers. Such was the case for Area 4/5 and for Fulton/Division. Not sustainable, period. And we wonder why downtown GR lacks "density".

Now envision this: You live in the near burbs, you drive, walk, bike or ride the bus a short trip to a park-n-ride station, you hop on a light rail train that leaves every 12 - 15 minutes toward downtown, you pull into either the main ITP station or a new station at Seward and Lake Michigan Drive (depending on where you live), you then transfer to a Neighborhood Connector Light Rail (streetcar) which leaves every 5 - 8 minutes (timed to be there when the light rail arrives), and can take you just about anywhere in the downtown area or out to Easttown or East Grand Rapids. Total trip from leaving your car at the station to your destination: about 20 - 25 minutes. No need to find a parking space. No gnashing your teeth at the sight of $8 event parking. No need to drive round-n-round to find a metered spot. Not only that, with much of the pressure relieved on downtown land, and more people wanting to live near this system, there are twice as many things to do downtown! :yahoo:

You want density, push for mass transit. It may even be too late. :dunno: It's going to take about a decade to build such a system, and we need to act today!

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Posted

Here is a map showing the city's parking commission controlled lots (DASH, ramps and surface lots).

http://www.grand-rapids.mi.us/index.pl?binobjid=3688

The problem is is that it's impossible to provide convenient parking for everyone everywhere downtown without completely obliterating half of the "land" downtown. Obliterating half the land downtown sucks the life right out of downtown. We all need to move away from the parking exclusivity/availability/shared use arguments. You'll never make it work over the long term.

Also, think about this. In the current setup, if a development is planned for a surface lot, not only do the spaces on the surface lot have to be replaced, spaces have to be made available for the new workers/students/residents/shoppers. Such was the case for Area 4/5 and for Fulton/Division. Not sustainable, period. And we wonder why downtown GR lacks "density".

Now envision this: You live in the near burbs, you drive, walk or ride the bus a short trip to a park-n-ride station, you hop on a light rail train that leaves every 12 - 15 minutes toward downtown, you pull into either the main ITP station or a new station at Seward and Lake Michigan Drive (depending on where you live), you then transfer to a Neighborhood Connector Light Rail (streetcar) which leaves every 5 - 8 minutes (timed to be there when the light rail arrives), and can take you just about anywhere in the downtown area or out to Easttown or East Grand Rapids. Total trip from leaving your car at the station to your destination: about 20 - 25 minutes. No need to find a parking space. No gnashing your teeth at the sight of $8 event parking. No need to drive round-n-round to find a metered spot. Not only that, with much of the pressure relieved on downtown land, and more people wanting to live near this system, there are twice as many things to do downtown! :yahoo:

You want density, push for mass transit. It may even be too late. :dunno: It's going to take about a decade to build such a system, and we need to act today!

There is nothing more I'd like to see than a park n' ride rail system in the GR metro area.

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Posted

The anecdote about out-of-towners not finding parking is pretty unbelievable. I'm not saying your customers didn't say that, but come on, you can't go 3 blocks downtown without finding a parking garage. Were they really not able to find a spot, or were they not able to find a free spot?

I know people don't like a pay for parking, but we're not exactly Chicago here. I paid all over $4 for a ramp last time I went to San Chez. I could have parked for free if I felt like driving around Heartside for a spot. Compared to the price of the meal (around $80 for 4 people) that's nothing. Go to Chicago and you'll pay easily pay $20 for parking.

And no, I don't expect visitors to use the mass-transit so much. Maybe if their hotel is a near a station, but if we can get the regular commuters to use mass transit it would free up that much more parking for visitors.

If the city really wants to push for light rail, the best way to get public support might be to quietly remove parking downtown. Let some of the surface lots be redeveloped without replacing the parking spaces. Make people feel the crunch a bit and then offer light rail as a solution. Better yet, build the rail first, then remove spaces so people don't simply demand more parking. They'll see an existing alternative and hopefully they'll use it.

Anyway, what kind of host are you, not taking your customers out to eat on the company dime... ;)

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