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Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2007

City seeks parking solution

Report: 500-space garage has spots available day or night on top level

A car is surrounded by empty parking spaces Wednesday on the third level of the parking garage in the 900 block of New Hampshire Street. A new report shows that this parking garage is seldom full, especially at the top level.

A car is surrounded by empty parking spaces Wednesday on the third level of the parking garage in the 900 block of New Hampshire Street. A new report shows that this parking garage is seldom full, especially at the top level.

November 29, 2007

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Parking spots plentiful in downtown Lawrence

Despite what you may think, a new report shows there's plenty of parking available in downtown Lawrence. You just need to know where to look. Enlarge video

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On the street

Do you use the downtown parking garage?

Yeah, sometimes. Usually when I’m going to the Bourgeois Pig and there’s not a spot out in front.

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Parking in downtown Lawrence is looking up.

No, check that. Parkers in downtown Lawrence should be looking up. At least that's the message of a new city study.

A report by city staff members has found that parking can be found anytime day or night in downtown, if motorists are willing to look up - as in up to the third floor of the city's parking garage at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

Surveys done by city parking attendants from January through October found that the roof of the parking garage averaged more than a 95 percent vacancy rate - by far the least used parking lot in downtown.

"If people would just go the extra block to New Hampshire, I think they would be surprised at how much parking they would find," said Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc.

City leaders have multiple reasons to spur new activity around the garage. The approximately 500-space garage was built seven years ago as part of a plan to redevelop much of the 900 block of New Hampshire Street. Much of the private redevelopment has not occurred, and as a result the city has not collected the amount of new taxes it anticipated to help pay for the $8 million garage.

Report conclusions

The report actually found pockets of available parking throughout downtown, but confirmed what many motorists already had surmised: there are more empty parking spaces south of Ninth Street than there are north of Ninth Street.

The report - which didn't measure the availability of parking on Massachusetts street - reached several conclusions:

¢ Out of the 14 public downtown parking lots north of Ninth Street, six of them were regularly at 80 percent capacity or greater during the weekday. The number dropped to five lots on Saturdays.

¢ Out of the 10 lots south of Ninth Street (counting each of the four levels of the parking garage) only one lot was regularly at 80 percent capacity or greater. That was true on weekdays and Saturdays.

¢ Parking lots Nos. 12 and 14 - both two-hour free lots on the east side of Vermont Street across from the library - are good bets to be near capacity at any time of day or evening. They both averaged 80 percent to 100 percent capacity.

¢ Parking lots Nos. 2 and 4 - the two-hour parking lots on the east side of New Hampshire Street in the 700 and 800 blocks - average 75 percent to 100 percent capacity in the afternoons and evenings.

¢ Parking lot No. 5 - just southeast of Ninth and Vermont streets - averages an 80 percent to 90 percent capacity during all times of the day.

City leaders were accentuating the positive findings of the report.

"What it shows is that there are available spaces throughout the downtown, but there are some areas greater than others," City Manager David Corliss said.

Untapped parking

The garage near the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets may be the biggest example of untapped parking potential. In addition to the rooftop parking of the garage being widely unused, the report found the other three levels of the garage generally have spaces available. The two-hour free spaces on the ground floor level generally are at 50 percent to 70 percent capacity. There is a fee for parking in the upper levels.

The longer term spaces on the basement and second level of the garage generally are at 20 percent to 50 percent capacity on Saturdays. During the weekday, that rises to 70 percent to 75 percent, although it falls off to about 20 percent during the evening hours.

Downtown leaders said they would like the city to look at ways to better utilize the garage.

"I think we might get more bang for our buck from that garage if we could figure out some sort of incentive for people who work downtown to park there," Pennington said.

She said a parking permit system for downtown employees might be in order. She said the city may want to consider allowing downtown employees with the proper permits to park on the top floor of the garage for free.

Educating the public about the convenience of the garage also is needed, she said. Pennington said many residents may not realize that several businesses on Massachusetts Street have back doors adjacent to the garage. Shoppers also may not realize how centrally located the garage is.

"When people come to downtown they have an expectation of parking 40 to 50 feet of the door they are heading to," Pennington said. "But if you look at Wal-Mart and Target parking lots, there aren't very many times when you can park that close to their front doors."

Corliss said he's in favor of some sort of education campaign. He also said he wants to look into better signs, perhaps electronic ones that would notify motorists of how many spots are available in particular lots.

But Corliss said he first wants to hear ideas from downtown merchants. He said he plans to meet with them following the holiday shopping season. He also said he's directing the city's parking staff to continue collecting the data for 2008.

Comments

matahari 6 years, 12 months ago

I guess going from a warm car to downtown location from a downtown lot in coat, hat, mittens, or gloves, boots, and a sweater scare some folks eh?

Lee Saylor 6 years, 12 months ago

Pennington says that we should give parking permits that allow those that work downtown to park free? Does that mean I get a refund for the last five years that I paid for a permit to park in the garage?

doc1 6 years, 12 months ago

How about an underground parking garage under the current lot at the Law Enforcement Center. Good luck ever trying to get close to that building.

MattressMan 6 years, 12 months ago

For the most part people that work and shop downtown are lazy and want to be catereed to with a parking spot right at the door of their destination.

Marion (Marion Lynn) says:

"Mid January any year. 12 degrees. 25-30 mph winds from the North. Yep, I'm headed Downtown and straight to that third deck of the parking garage!" Life is tough isn't it, ever heard of a coat, gloves and a hat?

lsaylor (Anonymous) says:

"Pennington says that we should give parking permits that allow those that work downtown to park free? Does that mean I get a refund for the last five years that I paid for a permit to park in the garage?" Read the article, I didn't see anything that says "give parking permits", it says "She said the city may want to consider allowing downtown employees with the proper permits to park on the top floor of the garage for free." How do you get a permit? pay for it. And if they do give them out why would you be entitled to a refund? You've gotten what you paid for.

Lee Saylor 6 years, 12 months ago

MattressMan: How can paying for something (a permit) mean that I get something for free (parking)? If I'm paying, its not free.

My original comment was meant to point out that there is already a permit system that's really pretty inexpensive. Unfortunately, sarcasm doesn't always read well.

arlo 6 years, 12 months ago

I have a tough time believing that many women want to make the alley between Mass and New Hampshire their main travel route in the evenings...

rumor_man 6 years, 12 months ago

I heard that the Fritzel development group is looking into putting a motel on the top level.

Godot 6 years, 12 months ago

What I'm waiting to see is how Corliss turns this into justification for a new parking lot under the new library.

Maybe they should donate the mostly unused parking garage to the DCDI, who will "sell" it to a new science startup (after the Bio Science Authority gives them the money for the purchase) then give the startup business taxpayer financing to construct a new research facility, and give them a 10 year rebate on property taxes. That would make it so much easier for all those KU research assistants to walk (or even take the T!) to their part time jobs at the new facility, and all those new downtown workers would save the downtown eateries. It would be win-win for everyone.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 12 months ago

So you'll go to WalMart, and maybe get lucky and get a parking space close to the door, but probably not unless you have a handicap tag, or you'll go to a mall and walk a quarter of mile, then walk from store to store, but doing the same downtown is too much, because it's cold. What wimps. The only time I've ever had a problem finding parking is on a parade day.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 12 months ago

This vacant space is reason enough to build a library at 9th and New Hampshire thus removing the urge to include a $10 million parking project on the library bill. Presto Lawrence has a library for 17.5 million instead of $30,$40 or $50 million. Now we're on to something.

George_Braziller 6 years, 12 months ago

I just wish that people who work downtown would park in the garage instead of on the adjoining neighborhood streets. I've had to park in the city lots a block away from my house because the street is full of downtown employee vehicles. They start swarming in about 9 in the morning and sit there all day until 5:30 -7:00. Most of the vehicles are regulars that we see every day. The neighbors even have nicknames for them like "buffalo truck" and "zebra girl" (she had zebra print seat covers).

Godot 6 years, 12 months ago

"Presto Lawrence has a library for 17.5 million instead of $30,$40 or $50 million. Now we're on to something."

Except that Lawrence does not have $17.5 million to spend on a new library without raising taxes.

This voter will not vote in favor of any new tax until 1) there has been a complete audit of the city books by an independent agency, 2) the city government demonstrates that it can and will cut waste and inefficiencies from the city budget, 3) there is a new city manager, and 4) the current system of 5 at large commissioners who take turns being mayor is replaced by an elected mayor and commissioners representing specific precincts.

Tristan Moody 6 years, 12 months ago

I don't know how many other people do what I do, but I don't pay attention to the upper two levels of the parking garage, simply because I'd rather park for free. I'm more inclined to walk the extra block or two to park in a free lot than I am to pay for closer parking, unless it's directly on Mass. St.

Add to that the fact that the top level of the parking garage doesn't have one of the primary benefits of parking in the garage in winter--snow and ice buildup. Why pay to park on a level that is exposed to the elements? Wouldn't it make more sense for the pay levels to be the sheltered ones?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 12 months ago

Tanger Mall should be converted to light industrial with a hardware store under a special use permit. Maybe even a grocery store.

kneejerkreaction 6 years, 12 months ago

Parking problem in downtown Lawrence, KS? That's a good one.

del888 6 years, 12 months ago

SWGlassPit (Anonymous) says: Why pay to park on a level that is exposed to the elements? Wouldn't it make more sense for the pay levels to be the sheltered ones?

I agree. If I'm going to pay to park, I'm going to use a parking meter on Mass street. There is no apeal to parking on the top floor of a garage.

Besides, as the story says: "The approximately 500-space garage was built seven years ago as part of a plan to redevelop much of the 900 block of New Hampshire Street. Much of the private redevelopment has not occurred, and as a result the city has not collected the amount of new taxes it anticipated to help pay for the $8 million garage." Lets blame poor planning and development on this. The old saying "if you build it they will come" only works in the movies. Lessons to learn: 1) don't build a parking garage until you have the business need to fill it. 2) don't build a 'spec' building in a business park if you don't have a tenant. 3) don't build a by-pass highway until you have cleared all the land purchases. 4) run the budget like it was your own personal account.

davisnin 6 years, 12 months ago

A dire need! By that I mean the city needs to create a problem to draw attention away from their corruption for a few moments. In fact I think that was the action on the cc agenda; 'direct staff to pull the old switcheroo' There is always parking around Mass.

kneejerkreaction 6 years, 12 months ago

del888 (Anonymous) says: run the budget like it was your own personal account.


A good bit of advice, simple yet rarely followed in the public sector or when dealing with anyone's money besides your own. Unless absolutely necessary, or well calculated, smart business people don't take risks....like building a parking garage speculating on increased business (dumb).

kneejerkreaction 6 years, 12 months ago

Oh the agony, the horror and searing pain of attempting to park in downtown Lawrence.

How much more of this parking brutality can we take before it all just blows wide open!!!!!!!!!

arrrggghhhhhhhh.....

kneejerkreaction 6 years, 12 months ago

This article should be titled "City Seeks Parking Problem", 'cause it shore looks as if they're looking' hard fer one.

kneejerkreaction 6 years, 12 months ago

davisnin (Anonymous) says: A dire need! By that I mean the city needs to create a problem to draw attention away from their corruption for a few moments.


True, davisnin. What with the magnitude of the parking problem in downtown Lawrence and everyone dashing for the few remaining parking spaces that will be available by 2010, we have completely forgotten that Sue Hack is giving away a whole lot of our tax dollars to help a company in which she has an undisclosed interest.

Tony Kisner 6 years, 12 months ago

Kneejerk - I think there is a problem, we have an $8.0 Mil. parking lot that we apparently only need 2/3's of.

kneejerkreaction 6 years, 12 months ago

Easy...(I'm having a good laugh)...my sentiments exactly!!! And WHAT a parking problem it is!!

MaryKatesPillStash 6 years, 12 months ago

scootterxlch (Anonymous) says:

I would never let my wife or daughter park in that garage. It has no security and can be very dangerous at night. it is creepy

Why? Do you have some kind of statistics about this parking garage that I don't know about? Are you afraid of the dark, or what?

Jeez. More and more, I feel like people are going to disallow anyone with ovaries from leaving their homes when it's dark. Ridiculous.

kneejerkreaction 6 years, 12 months ago

HEY, I've just come up with another parking problem....per the article:

"No, check that. Parkers in downtown Lawrence should be looking up. At least that's the message of a new city study."


Study?!! Did our city mothers and fathers PAY someone to do a PARKING study in downtown Lawrence??!!

If so, YES, we have a serious parking problem 'cause some moron mandated city staffers waste their time by this nonsensical distraction when they could have been focusing on REALLY wasting their time on, say, the South Bypass....geeezzzzz people....geeeezzzzzz...

headdoctor 6 years, 12 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront (Anonymous) says:

an afterthought and not like the club in the 60s

All city vehicles on the top. no exception. lower levels not available for parking until upper levels filled. top to bottom, just like a massage.

brain going to freeze soon

Most of the City vehicles parked on the lower level are at van height or more and that is why they are parked there. Trying to get those vans with lights and other fixtures on their top up to the top level is not even practical.

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