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Everything posted by Jippy

  1. The GRBJ has grown much more partisan over the last year, and the opinion pieces have grown increasingly bazaar. Most weeks now include a poorly articulated editorial concerning an initiative in the urban area of GR.
  2. Maybe where they instruct the crew how to mount the type of window they will be installing?
  3. Which parties would oppose changes to code that would require parking garages from being screened? This really seems to be a GR-thing (or a Concept thing?), as I rarely see this type of garage design in other cities. GR has decent requirements from screening parking in surface lots...but screening requirements apply to all parking types? Most growing cities (vs ones that are begging for any development) have code requirements that require a level of architectural treatment to screen garages....most stringently the requirement is an active use (meaning a parking space can not be adjacent to the facade), others require a combination of active use, or architectural or art panels. Architectural panels are commonplace in Chicago.
  4. I haven't really gotten the sense that we are seeing an overbuild situation in apartments in Grand Rapids, even if everything that has been proposed actually gets built. Overbuilding apartments will only lead to lower asking rents, which will allow an even greater share of the population able to afford the units. Additionally, some developers may have plans to convert their product to condos if values reach a certain price threshold. Grand Rapids has lagged in population and economic growth for decades. We may have turned the corner, where GR now attracts population and economic growth that historically went elsewhere. If that is the case, then outside real estate investment is a great macro-economic indicator.
  5. This garage design should be criminal. I honestly can't understand how they think this is okay. I also don't understand how the City continues to allow this to happen.
  6. This is a common practice for launching car-sharing in mid-size markets.... I have not seen the details here, but often Zipcar requests a revenue backstop for the "proof of concept" period. For example, as a condition of entering the market, $xxx,000 of revenue needs to be generated in the community, or the contract holder (i.e. the local government) needs to make up the shortfall. Yes, this is private company but car-sharing is also a valuable tool to lower car ownership and use....not by requiring it, but by giving the choice. Zipcar offers some fairly compelling statics for societal impacts in other communities as far as increases in transit, walking and biking, lowered car ownership, etc after they enter a market. I'm hoping though that GR is not actually getting into the carsharing business, but is contracting with Zipcar....it is so much more convenient to be able to tap into a brand and a platform that is already shared by the majority of other cities in the US....including Chicago and Ann Arbor.
  7. Back in Sept 2014 I made the following prediction which turned out essentially correct: "(Since this is now) an Orion project, to what degree do the pretty pictures evolve into a valued-engineered mass of functionality?" bummer
  8. It is true SLC MSA has mountains, but GR has a gigantic lake so that doesn't really negate the comparison. West Michigan has a lot more lakes and wetlands in general which shifts development towards itself. In fact, Grand Rapids is 2.6 times more dense than SLC. X99 does bring up a good point regarding parking differentials. Based on my cursory search, downtown SLC has 32,000 parking spaces. GR has 20,000. Not sure how that differs based on the uses in each city. Regarding retail, SLC has a large urban mall that was constructed about 5 years ago. However, it was entirely funded by the Mormon development company. Not sure Tanger would have been the right fit for downtown. Wrong demographic. I truly believe retail will follow at the appropriate pace. I don't think we need a mega retail development. Urban Outfitters is often the first larger national retail that goes into places (other than the pharmacy and grocery) like DT GR....but it has to be part of a retail cluster. Michigan ST? West Side somewhere? Fulton and areas around St Mary seem to be areas that could evolve to be more retail centric. The core is not necessary the right place unless some serious demo occurred. Not sure how feasible that is over the next 10 years. I'm not opposed to more parking downtown, but don't think supply is the leading issue. It is a perception issue. It is a communication of parking issue. It is a parking policy issue. I like the idea of variable rates based on when we want more folks downtown, including if that means free/dollar an hour kind of deal at low-point times, but personally I really don't think existing rates are all that unreasonable.
  9. Totally agree with X99 that SLC is the city we should emulate for transportation policies and investments. sub 200,000 population / 1 million MSA / relatively low density / conservative religious base with a liberal center. Grand Rapids? Nope. Salt Lake City With all the demographic similarities they have over 100 miles of light rail, street cars, BRT, and commuter rail. Including (wait for it).....transit park and rides in the fringes!!! Let's copy Salt Lake City!!!!
  10. It's weird. I have never had a problem finding a parking spot downtown. Ever. Transit is a game of margins. Moving small percentages of the people away from SOV at peak times can lead to significant reductions in congestion. It is an exponential function. But I agree with X99 that messaging is key. We need to demonstrate that we are open for business and have ample parking for the choice driver....I would just deviate that there is always parking available it is just a matter of where and how the where is being communicated. This is also a matter of planning, planning for the time when there are twice as many people living downtown. Twice as many people visiting downtown. Twice as many workers downtown. If that also means twice as many cars, then there certainly is a diminished quality to what has been and is being created.
  11. Reducing on-street parking rates would have the perverse effect of driving more parking into garages, including private ones. The only ones that would then have access to on-street parking would be the first ones there. Thus, instead of the regular turn-over of vehicles the store clerks and restaurant workers would take the spaces, and thus push customers to less convenient parking locations. I would raise on-street parking rates and lower garage parking rates in effort to maximize parking usage to about 90% throughout the main parts of the day. Variable parking rates that are very clearly communicated to a driver maximize the asset, increase the ease of parking, and consistently make on-street parking spaces available. The thing that usually gives drivers the most angst is pulling into a parking space, lot or garage and not knowing the cost. The cost should be visible from the street in big numbers.
  12. So let's talk about the policies. Which policy suggestion of the seven listed by DRGI do you think is too progressive for a small city like GR? Three of the 7 directly have to do with improving parking. The DASH helps support parking downtown and improving it in anyway is not forcing anyone to do anything. It makes sense to improve the efficacy of a program to the extent possible. Car- and bike-sharing are another option that is not forcing anyone to do anything. Both are very low cost as well. So I guess we are down to "Developing incentive programs to encourage willing people to choose walking, biking and transit." Curious to hear the opposition on this one. GrDad, I absolutely agree that we want to keep this forum filled with clean decorum, but it is not just how we treat each other. The folks working for the city are real people who care a lot about their communtiy. I would much rather have debates on the policy aspects but often a few of the folks on the forum have more focused on the people working at the City and how they are apparently idiots (e.g. "Are these people this tone-deaf? ...obsessed with attracting these gods known as "young professionals"). It gets under my skin when folks can't have reasonable discussions on the whats and instead focus on the who's.
  13. I quoted you, so I am not sure how to respond to this. Please explain that one. I would love to know what we are supposedly missing. Again, if you think the following are too draconian, I don't have much to offer: Adopting a "Parking and Transportation Demand Management Ordinance" to improve urban mobility through new development. Deploying a car share service for people who have the occasional need to hop in the car and go longer distances. Deploying a bike share service for people traveling short distances around the urban core neighborhoods. Pricing valuable public parking properly to manage the growing competition for space and maintain certainty for customers. Expanding the public parking supply where it makes sense. Rebooting the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) service to function as a proper urban circulator and more easily connect, say, the Spectrum employee to the DowntownMarket for lunch. Developing incentive programs to encourage willing people to choose walking, biking and transit. I know that I am coming across as a jerk, but come on....the above solutions do not warrant the sharp criticism that you are offering. I am not worshiping anything, I am pointing out that your sharp reaction to a very innocuous set of proposals is out of proportion. If we can't agree on the above set of improvements is worthwhile for downtown, then we have nothing to debate. The listed solutions are Transportation 101 policies shared by the majority of bustling downtowns. Heck, the majority of Florida and Arizona large downtowns, the champion of sprawl, share the majority of these solutions.
  14. I had to reread the article to see if I missed something. I didn't. The article is not describing anything out of the ordinary. It would appear some members of this forum have deep-seated frustrations and biases towards investing in pedestrian and multi-modal improvements. The negativity this article engendered is a bit silly. The question some are bringing up is what percentage allocation of transportation taxes should go to automobile uses versus bike lanes, transit, and pedestrian improvements. No where in the article did it mention bike lanes. No where in the article did it mention expanding BRT or street cars. No where did it mention forcing people out of their cars. It simply offered a rational for expanding transportation choices to: Adopting a "Parking and Transportation Demand Management Ordinance" to improve urban mobility through new development. Deploying a car share service for people who have the occasional need to hop in the car and go longer distances. Deploying a bike share service for people traveling short distances around the urban core neighborhoods. Pricing valuable public parking properly to manage the growing competition for space and maintain certainty for customers. Expanding the public parking supply where it makes sense. Rebooting the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) service to function as a proper urban circulator and more easily connect, say, the Spectrum employee to the Downtown Market for lunch. Developing incentive programs to encourage willing people to choose walking, biking and transit. If anyone really thinks these are not practical, pragmatic solutions, and somehow describes an insidious attempt to "just 'ride the bus', 'get on a bike', and 'why dont you walk'' by 'these people [who] are tone-deaf?", then I will shush. But I must say that some of you have come across a bit tone deaf lately.
  15. Once upon a time, the typical Urban Planet GR patron was championing more urban development and transit. In the last year, the sentiment has suddenly shifted, or perhaps the policies of the city have shifted. Now the City is advocating for more urbane policies than the average Urban Planet GR patrons. It is now the norm that the folks commenting on the GR forum are advocating for more and cheaper parking, less transit, and more space reserved for the traveling automobile. Are we all getting old and cranky and like things just the way they are? As one who travels across the country and looks at urban policies, the things GR is doing are not out of the norm for progressive urban policies.
  16. I have no issue with tax credits for brownfield remediation, demolition, and infrastructure improvements -- the original intent behind the tax credit program to get redevelopment of obsolete properties back in revenue generating status. It is the subsidization of parking that I struggle with. If anything, incentives should be focused on the wealth creating portion of a development, rather than the dormitory for vacated automobiles?
  17. Well snap, now I am confused. Help me out here. "There's a tipping point where a hot neighborhood becomes someplace where no one wants to go because it's too much of a pain in the ass." -- as Yogi Bearra said "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded." My question was not as blind and pro economic development than it was apparently interpreted. I am simply asking, have any of you seen a place that is seeing an influx of market-rate real estate development and a scarcity of parking, and the neighborhood is actually on the decline? This was not a loaded question. When I think of the neighborhoods in GR, Chicago, heck even Detroit, if they are facing increased parking shortages (real or perceived), they have begun to stabilize or are on the ascent. No where did I ever state or advocate for a tax to fix the ills. I am not arguing that parking is not an issue, and there may be some areas where the quality of life has been impacted, but after living in dense urban areas in several American cities and a few international ones, three truisms are prevalent among them all: 1) humans everywhere gripe about the lack of parking all the time, 2) somehow people adapt and life goes on, and 3) attempts at "fixing" the parking problem tend to create more harm than good. I absolutely believe in sound zoning and public policy to provide predictability to new and existing property owners, businesses and other residents, but also think the concerns of parking tend to become self-correcting over time. The Icon is a perfect example. No good parking solution, but people are happily living there (and griping about parking), and the rents are adjusted correctly. I personally struggle with the interplay of the free market and strong social policy, and it would appear that we all are. X99, who strikes me as a free market kind of guy, is advocating for transferring publicly owned property that was improved and maintained by taxpayer funds should be transferred to or held for the exclusive use of native homeowners. Dad, you hare making the argument that existing retail businesses have greater standing than the individuals who freely purchased the property at market rate for their own benefit. Doesn't the 616 project have retail in it? Again, my original question was not intended to stoke a blind "urban development everywhere is good all the time" theme, it was simply to tease out ones thoughts on the interplay of investment and stabilization. Now I will cease.
  18. I'm curious, has anyone ever been to a neighborhood either in GR or otherwise that you attribute their decline too few parking spaces? I can't think of any of the top of my head. Any place that I have ever been too that had a jammed parking situation also struck me as vibrant and a success. Most dead neighborhoods commercial areas that I can recall have too many parking spaces, too many buildings torn down for the provision of parking. I don't mind letting the market bear how many parking spaces are needed. Having parking shortages causes creative solutions, whether it be people choosing to walk/bike/transit or pay for the space or not go to the destination. I'm not thrilled of transferring public property (street space) that we all pay through gas and property taxes for the financial benefit of specific property owners. If they were to buy it for its market and operating value, then that would be an interesting public policy conversation to have. Knowing that structured parking usually costs $15k-25k per space, I am perfectly content having the public (including myself) pay for the true cost of the space.
  19. Even if the entrance doesn't directly face Monroe and is windowless, they can do a much better job of making the facade interesting and pedestrian-friendly. Built like this, it would totally kill the pedestrian experience and essentially turn Monroe from an "A" street (primary, pedestrian friendly street) to a "C" street (support/service street). Looks like it doesn't even have enough room for a sidewalk! I would allow them to not have a main entrance or windows if they so choose, but make them shift the building (to put back the mandatory sidewalk/streetscape requirements) and add some architectural, vegetative, interactive elements to improve the pedestrian experience.
  20. The reason I ask is that for most folks, a financial boost is worth the consideration. At a past employer, we were offered $45/mo to not use the parking garage. Saves the company on paying for the parking space and I got a few extra bucks (my coffee money) to ride in with a friend that lived close by.
  21. Poorly written on my part. Yes, I meant employers paying their employees to not pay as an effort to reduce their need for paying $25k per new parking space.
  22. When given sufficient options and adequate financial incentive, mode shifting will occur. Question: if you worked on the Hill but continued to live where you do today, what would be the minimum payment you would need to receive in order not not to drive separately to work?
  23. The Weston side of the parking garage is the only part that I have issue with. It needs some more articulation, or variation so it is more than a red brick wall with a couple of ventilation windows punched through.
  24. In Grand Rapids, each kilowatt of solar pv capacity produces an average 1245 kilowatt-hours annually (compared to 1700 kwh in Phoenix or 900 kwh in Berlin, Germany). The solar panels for each kilowatt of capacity takes about 75-100 sq ft of space depending on efficiency and layout. By 2022, energy storage will likely have similar rate of return as solar pv today, so much of the variability issues will be worked out (although Michigan already has one of the largest energy storage facilities in the U.S. in Ludington). If solar is coupled with effective utility demand-side programs then variable production rates are dramatically mitigated.
  25. Also, the mlive article still suggests that parcels will be reserved for private development -- thus the smaller building will have a much smaller footprint -- leaving room for something else.
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