Parking begets development continued…

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Love this quote

“No one’s walking four blocks to park; this isn’t New York City.”

~ Developer, on the need for more parking in Traverse City

I think we can all agree, Traverse City is not New York City. I’m not sure we all can agree that, given the right urban design, that people won’t walk 4 blocks. With the right design and policies, they might even walk more.

Regardless, the West End Car-Strorage Facility received more Record Eagle attention this morning. The locations under consideration for purchase were revealed (Numbers added):

The DDA has identified six potential sites: (1) the west and (2) east side of Pine Street at Front Street; (3) a city-owned parking lot on State Street behind the post office; (4) mostly vacant land on State Street east of Pine Street; (5) a lot between the north bank of the Boardman River and Garland Street, and (6) land behind the Bay Area Transfer Station on Hall Street.

See any that you like? 

Again, just because I’d prefer we spend $8-$10 million dollars creating a leading edge network of complete streets, doesn’t mean I don’t support a parking deck. They can make sense. Still, as an advocate for a more balanced development approach, it’s depressing year after year to hear the City explain that we can’t afford $20k or $40k to connect a neighborhood sidewalk and then turn-around and explain how we can’t afford not to spend $8m storing cars.


What do you need to see? 

A few things I’d like to see as part of any parking deck proposal, depending on location:

  • Revenue sharing with the neighborhoods for traffic calming and complete street projects.
  • A ground level, accessed from the street, public toilet.
  • Semi-heated bicycle parking facility.
  • ????

Yesterday’s crank.





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  1. November 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Sheesh, by now it should be clear that simply storing cars is a waste. At least incorporate retail and office space around the edge of a parking structure providing space for startups and business incubators. Keep away from the Boardman river too —unless super environmentally sound design is employed.

  2. December 1, 2012 at 10:51 am

    In a way I’m glad to see real estate agents and developers pointing out the alleged market demand for parking. Now, the DDA has no excuse for not charging customers anything less than market rate when they build the deck. Charging anything less would be irresponsible. And five bucks a day is not cutting it.

    We can then invest that extra revenue into the things Gary described: improvements in the area.

    There’s no reason parking revenue should just go back into the parking system. Some of that money should be used to invest in things that make the downtown more attractive, in traffic calming for surrounding neighborhoods, or in things that reduce the demand for parking, like transit.

    In many cities, including Ann Arbor, the DDA uses parking revenue to pay for transit passes for any downtown employee who wants one. It’s a very popular program because they’ve managed to set up a decent park and ride system.

    By encouraging downtown employees to carpool, use the bus, bike, or walk to work, or by creating a useful park ‘n’ ride system, you’re freeing up parking spaces for visitors and customers.

    It sounds like the new deck discussion may be an opportunity to finally take a serious look a park ‘n’ ride system for our downtown employees. Let’s invest in parking outside of town, and focus less on spending on parking in town. Grand Rapids has been a model for this with their DASH system. GR is even at the point where businesses leaders have called for no new parking decks downtown despite having seen billions of dollars worth of downtown commercial growth.

    Side note: When all the planners around the state came to town a few weeks ago for a conference, many went on a downtown tour expecting to hear about all the cool things going on in Traverse City. A few of them told me afterward how disappointed they were that the only thing DDA staff seemed to talk about was parking.

    It’s not a bash on the DDA. It’s only an observation.

  3. mikecgrant
    December 3, 2012 at 9:03 am

    How practical do you really think a system of park and ride lots would be for downtown DC? As someone who worked in downtown TC for almost 10 years it seems to me there are any number of challenges that would make it unworkable. Take your best case scenario and say that somehow the DDA leases parking from Tom’s East Bay and gives people bus passes to take the BATA from there. So that adds probably almost 1/2 hour to a person’s day each way to take the bus as opposed to just driving to work. Most folks I know would pay alot of money to avoid giving up an hour of their day to stand outside waiting for a bus (in the winter, etc), ride a bus with a bunch of strangers, etc, when they already own a car (it is a “park” and ride lot, after all) they could drive downtown in comfort in maybe 10 minutes and park for very little money. And that’s the best case scenario. Throw in somebody having to transfer on BATA to get to downtown and that’s another, what, 1/2 hour to an hour of their day gone. Ain’t gonna happen.

    I live somewhere now (northern Viriginia/DC suburb) where this scheme is workable and it happens all the time. But that’s because DC/Arlington traffic is like hell on earth and parking in the downtown areas of DC and Arlington is $20-$30/day. So there is a system of HOV lanes and park and rides and vanpools, public transit, etc, and people use them all because the alternative (driving alone) is both highly unpleasant and highly expensive. But plenty of people also still sit in traffic every day, twice a day, because either they don’t want to take public transit and/or they need the flexibility of having a car (drop/pick their kids up from school after work, don’t likve near the bus stop, etc).

    So unless something drastically changed in TC in the three plus years since I’ve lived there I highly doubt TC traffic bears any more resemblance to DC traffic than it did when I lived there, which is exactly none. And, as you know, parking is TC, downtown and elsewhere, is relatively cheap and easy. And that’s not likely to change much any time soon, because I’m guessing there is exactly zero political support for spending any serious amount of DDA money to set up a park and ride system. And, as a City taxpayer, I wouldn’t support it either. Because nobody would use it and there are plenty of other areas I’d like to see my tax dollars spent. Maybe MLUI could get a foundation grant to write a study about it or something, but that’s probably about as far as it would go.

    It seems to me that, hopefully, there will be a continuing practical/political evolution in TC in the coming decades of gradually 1) increasing land values leading to 2) increasing density and mixed-use; as well as 3) increasing difficulty getting around in TC by car. All of which will hopefully make 1) development in TC more vertical because property is too valuable to devote it to surface parking lots and one-story buildings; which will make it 2) easier to get more and different services in TC without solely relying on your car; as well as 3) increase support for alternatives to driving. Grand Rapids is a good example of this process but their downtown is, what, 100 times larger and denser than TC. So it’s no surpriase they’re looking at alternatives. Gas going to $5/gallon would, possibly, speed the process as well. But, obviously, I’m not a fan of what you’re talking about.

  4. December 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Needed to do this last week with the post, but, finally, a visual of the 6 locations as described in the Record Eagle.

    I think I have it right….

  5. December 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    I’m certainly glad BATA and the DDA are not as skeptical as you are about trying to create a better transportation system for Traverse City (and for those of us who live here).

    Many of us who live in this area already see progress. For example, BATA partnered with the Grand Traverse Casino and Resort and Turtle Creek to provide hourly bus service between downtown and Acme. Downtown employees who live in Acme or east of Acme can park those lots and ride into town if they have a transit pass. It’s an option. It’s clearly not for everyone. It’s not ideal for most commuters. But it’s an option, and, a very low-cost option at that. Ridership is growing.

    BATA formed a similar partnership with Ric’s in Interlochen. Some Benzie commuters take advantage of being able to park at Ric’s and take the bus into town. It’s by means ideal, but it’s something from which to build. It began a couple weeks ago and people are already using it. (It also stops at a few businesses on M-37 that provide plenty of parking.)

    Munson must soon decide whether or not to build an $8M parking deck of their own next to Slabtown. So they’re interested in partnering with BATA and investing in a system could get just a fraction of their employees into town without their cars.

    As we build our downtown vertically and closer together, parking costs, demand, and prices will rise. Because of this, I don’t see any reason why BATA, the DDA, the city, Garfield twp, and businesses should not keep thinking about, and allowing for, systems that provide people with more options for getting into town, even if we don’t have the density for another 20-30 years. There’s no harm in thinking about this stuff, especially since it doesn’t cost a dime more than the service BATA already provides.

    I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that Traverse City create a big-city style park and ride system next week. And I don’t think anyone suggests that a dime of DDA funds should be spent on a park and ride system itself.

    I’m answering Gary’s question with an idea: Why not use a petty amount of parking revenue to subsidize transit passes for downtown employees who will use them? If BATA’s routes become more attractive for commuters, and more people are getting downtown by bus instead of their car, we’re creating a good system. And if no one uses the passes, no one pays. We don’t have a parking shortage, we have an access shortage.

    Thankfully, many of us here are moving beyond the “that will never work” mentality. We’re building a better city, an it’s exciting.

  6. December 3, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Oh, I’m sorry. I thought when you wrote “In many cities…the DDA uses parking revenue to pay for transit passes for any downtown employee who wants one. It’s a very popular program because they’ve managed to set up a decent park and ride system…It sounds like the new deck discussion may be an opportunity to finally take a serious look a park ‘n’ ride system for our downtown employees. Let’s invest in parking outside of town, and focus less on spending on parking in town”, well, that you meant that the TC DDA should spend money to invest in a park and ride system. As in “they” the DDA should buy/lease parking spaces “outside of town.” Evidently that’s not what you meant. Oh well.

    I’m excited that you’re excited that probably about three people rode BATA today in from Ric’s and two from the casino. And, who knows, another 1,000 drove in alone in their cars. I’m glad that BATA is helping to provide transportation alternatives for those folks that use it but, unfortunately, BATA’s not going to make much of any difference in the land use and/or transportation future of the TC region in the near term. At least until parking and driving gets way may difficult and expensive than it is now. That’s not being skeptical. That’s being realistic.

  7. Mitchell Austin
    January 9, 2013 at 9:53 am

    The City of Punta Gorda included 17,000 sqft of ground floor retail space in its 400 space parking garage completed in 2009.

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