Sunday, July 10, 2005

More Parking Decks? What Are They Thinking?

Hoggard objects to Downtown Greensboro, Inc.'s proposal to ask the city to build three new parking decks downtown, as reported by Matt Williams of the News & Record. Councilwoman Sandy Carmany concurs in comments on his post. So let me belatedly add my "amen."

When Action Greensboro brought the Project for Public Spaces to Greensboro to consult about building the Center City Park, their designers did a study of Greensboro downtown parking. Their verdict: downtown Greensboro has too much parking. I'm inclined to agree. Here are three views from the new Center City Park:

Looking south:



Looking west:



Looking north:



Here's another deck a few blocks away, and just a couple of downtown's many surface lots:







I go downtown a lot, and even at busy times, I can't remember having to park more than two blocks from my destination -- and I almost never use the decks. I can almost always find a convenient space on the street.

When I have used the decks, they have never been close to full.

So what is DGI's Ray Gibbs thinking? I know that he's a very smart guy, and I think he knows very well that most urban planners would agree that downtown Greensboro has plenty of parking spaces.

But Ray has been in Greensboro long enough to know that a city planner's view of adequate parking probably doesn't line up with the perceptions of a typical Greensboro resident.

Strip development has been the norm here for half a century. And if you're used to strip development, which gives priority to parking, and which almost always allows you to park within a hundred feet of you destination, it can seem like a real pain to have to search for a parking space, only to walk a couple of blocks to the store you're visiting.

Ray also knows that it's going to be quite a while before Greensboro develops a really urbanized downtown population that is used to walking. The people who are coming downtown now are mostly suburbanites who can easily take their dollars elsewhere if they're frustrated by what they perceive as inadequate parking.

Not that there aren't some real paradoxes in peoples' parking perceptions: some who complain about having to walk two blocks downtown will happily walk across a sea of asphalt at Four Seasons Mall and spend hours ambulating its marbled mazes. Go figure.

New parking decks might promote development downtown, but at a very high cost. And since two of downtown's most successful developers (Milton Kern and Joey Medaloni) don't see a need, let's just not do it.

Ambulemus! (Let's walk!)

12 comments:

D. Hoggard said...

Love that scooter! You almost got it in every photo.

Sue said...

I agree with you; there's plenty of parking in decks and sometimes on the street. I agree we need to make better use of the available parking (private security? where are the city cops?)

Have you got a way to make non-downtown folks park in the decks? Where's the improvement plan to label the walls inside the decks with readable arrows and not just street names, but building names? (they finally fixed some of the Greene St. deck but WHO made up that Kress Terrace joke?)

I know you're a downtown guy, but there are lots of non-downtown folks who hate parking decks; believe it or not, they hate them so much they won't go downtown if they have to use them. They are frightened of them. They don't know what to do inside them - they get turned around, lost, confused. There are not enough transitional wall signs to help. There are CRAPPY walkways to even get out of some decks without decent signage to tell you which way to go (e.g. Greene St. re: the walkways) And WHY OH WHY won't they tell you how much it costs BEFORE you pull into the ramp?

Sam W said...

Amen Dad!

Anonymous said...

No more Parking Decks! When I first got to this city I wondered why there was so much parking. I read that article in amazement too. I think a lot of parking-structure developers with connections are licking their lips with this Amendment One gravy train. Expect more ridiculous yet highly profitable(to some) boondoggles to transpire in the future at taxpayer expense.

Jacynthia said...

Another issue about parking decks is the safety factor. I don't know about ya'll, but I hate parking in a deck at night - especially alone. I can't think that the warm, cozy feeling of fear is something Mr. Gibbs is trying to bring to downtown.

Jacynthia said...

I forgot to mention the stairwells in parking decks - not only are the ideal places for people to hide out but they can also tend to become littered and good grief the smell at times. Another yummy thought.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify my feelings on Amendment One, I think we ought to be wary when we voters decide to finance projects or not. I do not mean to say that connections had anything to do with this issue. I mean that we should carefully use Amendment One, if use it all.

Angie Smits said...

Greensboro, N.C. "We Pave Paradise..."

Calvin, Founding Blogger said...

David,

And the link is done. Thank you for the great pic!

Calvin,
Fouding Blogger
Our World, Our View
www.ourworldourview.com

David Wharton said...

Thanks Calvin. I've added you to my blogroll.

Anonymous said...

The problem with more parking decks isn't just the cost of building them. It is that they dominate the landscape. Downtown is a destination when there are things to do and a pleasant aesthetic experience. It is not a destination when it is dominated by imposing parking structures. My first impression on visiting Greensboro was --- what an empty and depressing downtown full of vacant parking structures. The one place there is somewhat of a lack of parking is the South Elm bar scene late night on weekends. I don't recommend more parking. People won't die if they have to walk a little bit to the parking structures further north. I just thought the older crowd might not realize.

Jerry Butcher said...

"...and they put up a parking lot". I've found that sometimes the words 'always' & 'forever' are taken lightly. At least in my dictionary.