“Cities need to address parking needs in their revitalization plans, but they must also weigh parking benefits and costs, and encourage transit alternatives whenever possible.”

By David Albersman


Parking and the shape of the city


A disconnect often exists between reality and the vision for infrastructure growth in cities, said David Albersman at the "Effects of Parking: Modal and Development Issues" session. Often, he said, that vision doesn't include any parking.

"You can't pretend like it's not going to be there," he said, explaining that cities fail to incorporate parking into their revitalization plans. Minneapolis has no plan in place to supply the projected 15,000 parking unit spaces needed to meet its goals for economic development.

However, although some parking should accompany infrastructure growth, Albertson said a balance between transit and vehicle planning must be struck, and plans for parking must be ingenious. "Sometimes parking makes sense and sometimes it doesn't," he said.

Not only is building parking structures an urban design difficulty, it is expensive and highly subsidized.

"The break-even cost for parking doesn't come close to what they're charging," said Albersman, of Albersman & Armstrong, LTD. Currently the first central ring of downtown Minneapolis charges an average of $200 or more a month for a parking space; the second ring ranges from $130 to 200, and the surrounding area costs less than $130. However, the break-even rate for one space ranges from slightly under $200 to almost $350 a month, based on varying construction and operational costs.

Albersman said an increase of park-and-ride facilities, carpooling incentives, and multi-use parking structures would reduce the costly need for parking. He doesn't believe the Third Avenue Distributer (TAD) garages near the Target Center—funded 80% by the federal government in an effort to reduce congestion in the core area by encouraging carpooling—are working because the program is not flexible enough nor the incentives deep enough.

Instead, Albersman said, carpoolers should park for free to encourage greater utilization of carpooling, which would decrease the city's building of highly subsidized parking spaces.

He also said the proposed Guthrie Theatre site, which would be a single-use parking garage, is a showcase example of a bad parking plan. Cities need to address parking needs in their  revitalization plans, he concluded, but they must also weigh Parking benefits and costs, and encourage transit alternatives whenever possible.


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