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A parking idea


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Everytime an idea comes up about development downtown, parking issues are usually in the forefront of discussion. This is usually along the lines that there is not enough parking downtown. Many of the merchants along have complained about the lack of spaces along 4th Street though lots and garages are just steps away.

From the City of Winston Salem site:

  • There are now more than 4,200 off-street parking spaces.

  • There are over 4,000 spaces are in five parking decks: 4th/Church, Cherry-Marshall, 6th/Cherry-Trade, Triad Park and Center City West.

  • The Park & Shop Program promotes shopping and commerce in the downtown area by selling discount stamps for lower hourly parking rates. The City's public parking decks honor Park & Shop stamps.

  • At most facilities, hourly rates are 75 cents, with a $6 maximum per day.

  • 24-hour passes, which allow unlimited entries and exits into the Cherry/Marshall and 6th/Cherry/Trade decks, are also available for $6.

So there is no lack of spots and the rates cheap enough despite peoples procivility for free parking. It seems that there just a bias against parking garages and a bias in having to walk more than few steps though people do not seem to mind having to cross an acre of asphalt to get to their local Wal-mart.

A legitimate issue is that most of these lots are not available in the evenings or weekends. Other surface lots are privately owned and are thus inaccessible but they tend to be quite visible as opposed to the decks which are a bit out of the way. Thus people think there is no place to park downtown.

The biggest problem thus is the lack of information of how many spots are available and where they are located downtown.

My idea comes from when I lived in Frankfurt. Along the major interchanges, there were electronic boards showing drivers how vacant spots were available at various public decks downtown. The costs may not be too high for the signs that would be updated via radio signals in real time. Located along business 40 and I-40, University and Silas Parkway and other high traffic areas, it would convey to people that spots are available downtown at any given time so they would avoid having to search for a spot to park.

As it is, the city is losing money on the operations of its decks but not too much so a small investment may be enough to recoup the costs through increased parking fees.

This only works if there is something for people to do downtown regularly but it is the details like these and not the big ideas that will make or break downtown development.

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I can guarantee you if they did away with the fees for the parking then you would see an increase in shoppers downtown. Most people find it cheaper to drive to Wal-mart and park and walk 1 mile then pay $6 and it be all convenient. it's a shame!

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What are the parking fees like in Winston? And is parking free at any times? Every time I've gone there I've parked on the street. I was just in Roanoke, VA and they have free parking in the main downtown deck on weekends and after 6pm. IMO, this would do wonders for W-S since they already have what I would describe as a "glut" of offstreet parking and certainly don't need any more ;)

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When proposing very large developments, parking is always an issue. Its one of the biggest stumbling blocks for large development in the Triad's downtowns. Parking decks are usually the answer but they take up big blocks. Cities are now building more underground parking facilities and they are building parking decks stacked withing office towers and residential towers. There is a park in downtown Boston that has an underground parking deck beneath it. Thats a good idea becasue valuable real estate can be used for redevelopment instead of parking structures.

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