6/28/2010

Bountiful Parking

Posted by MJ

Some food for thought:

...But one quote in particular stands out: “‘Downtown can’t begin to compete with suburban office parks without convenient and affordable parking,’ said Schmand, whose nonprofit agency represents the interests of downtown stakeholders and residents.”
To the uninitiated, this may sound reasonable, except for one thing. Downtown can never compete with suburban office parks on the basis of convenient and affordable parking. To compete successfully on that basis would mean the destruction of all of downtown’s remaining (and emerging) value.
By definition, downtown can never out-compete the suburbs on suburban, automobile-based terms. By necessity, parking takes up a tremendous amount of land, creating lots of dead, open space, which the suburbs have plenty of. In fact, that’s the suburbs’ main asset: lots of open space. A city’s main amenity is not open land, but density, walkability, a diverse mix of uses, and the quality of the streets and other public spaces. These are the areas in which the suburbs cannot out-compete downtown. These are things cities...need to focus on to be successful.
From: Chuck Banas: Putting Parking In Its Proper Place. I'll grant you the we are not NYC, or even Buffalo. I use the quote to highlight the importance of parking placement, sharing, etc to maintain a DT environment that is worth visiting and living around. Site plans such as Family Video, Walgreens, etc only further hinder the use of our assets (urban, walkable infrastructure). Isolated, single-use, set-back, drive-in-drive-out pods will only hold back long term valuable growth in DT Lockport.

Unfortunately we knocked down a lot of our asssets 50-60 years ago. We could use this open land as a positive to rebuild with a nice balance of pedestrian and vehicle amenities. Ulrich City Center with its "hidden" parking and continuous street fronts is the prime example. Though more often than not we appear to miss the mark for no particular reason other than "that's the way it's done". Or in other words, our bulding and zoning codes allow (or mandate?) that we get the weakest buildings and site plans.

Time for a change?

2 comments:

DocWu said...

I have lamented that often. I live within walking distance of a Rite Aid that has two driveway entrances, but no pedestrian access. I have to jump over a wood rail that runs around the lot to get in without walking further to a driveway.

They put these stores less than a mile from the next, to serve neighborhoods, yet treat them like driving destinations...

MJ said...

Thanks for the comment. I live near the same Rite Aid with the fence to keep out pedestrians from the intersection (Transit and High). SO lovely...

I believe this is why most people are NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) and BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Around Anything). We have seen the crap that we get is more tailored to those driving through our neighborhood (pushed back building and seas of asphalt out front) instead for those of us living in it. Entrances from a sidewalk etc.

It all comes down to our code. Can't blame the developers too much for building what we allow (or even demand).

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