Downtown parking: are we done yet?

I just read DRC’s article from last weekend about the downtown parking woes.  Developers want the city to build more parking, or they say the area could face financial doom.

If a plan isn’t implemented soon, business owners say, the lack of parking would likely stunt the budding entertainment district along Industrial and East Hickory.

If downtown tenants don’t succeed, the value of real estate in the entertainment district could plummet, said Greg Johnson, executive vice president of Verus Real Estate Advisors, which owns several buildings off East Hickory Street.

“We’ve made our investments, and the parking is an absolute, critical component to the success of a restaurant in the entertainment district,” Johnson said.

Without the availability of publicly funded parking alongside expensive downtown acreage, it doesn’t make sense to develop downtown, he said.

“People get really excited about the entertainment and restaurants but can’t find a place to park,” he said. “If they can’t find a place to park, they stop going there and the energy starts to die.”

Back in March, the same developers explained to council that there is plenty of available parking downtown, day and night, and that downtown Denton is a walkable area where drivers might have to walk a couple blocks.  Wait, so they changed their minds?  Watch:

The beloved bar owner of Dan’s Silverleaf, Dan Mojica, offers a well balanced, never-threatening voice to the article:

People also need to be open to parking farther away from venues and walking the downtown area, he said.

“There’s an issue, obviously, but it’s not as expansive of an issue as it seems to feel,” Mojica said. “Just because it [parking] isn’t available right in front doesn’t mean there’s no parking.”

With nearby parking lots, such as the public lot east of the Wells Fargo building, the area will need to be more pedestrian-friendly, especially with the incoming passenger rail line, he said.

“This is something we need to address, but we’re in an enviable position,” Mojica said.

Since I lack the vast parking code comprehension of WalkableDFW, I’ll keep these thoughts primitive enough for my caveman brain.

  1. Parking problem vs perception of parking problem.  I feel like this debate has been discussed ad inifinitum to conclude that parking is plentiful.  The free city lot behind Wells Fargo is never full.  Case closed.
  2. Hey, what about the other transit modes?  Bikes, feet, buses, and that shiny awesomeness conspicuously absent from the article: The DCTA A-Train.  The downtown developers complain that they need publicly-funded parking, yet they’re building a carfree paradise within blocks of the train station.  In any metropolitan city, we’d call that Transit Oriented Development or Intelligent Urbanism.  Get more citizens walking, biking, and using public transit, and we’ll have more parking spots for drivers and out-of-towners.
  3. FUD.  The blame game.  “If our shiny new condos aren’t profitable, we blame lack of parking”.  Is this bullying rhetoric to get taxpayer funding for private enterprise?
  4. If people don’t find parking, they’ll leave?  In other news, the fact that the iPhone 4 is perpetually sold out makes me want it even more.  Whoa, wait, how did that happen?  All those cars circling Fuzzy’s indicate demand, and that’s a good thing.  Imagine how many pedestrian customers will eat there when the train arrives.  The parking problem isn’t a problem.  It’s a visual cue that people love going there.
  5. Does the city’s “cash in lieu of parking” program allow developers to provide bicycle parking in lieu of parking spots?  If not, why not?  Surely I’m not the only salaried thirty-something with .5 cars who’d like a sweet downtown loft with nice bicycle parking.  Guide developers by incentivizing transit diversity and not by prescribing car parking-requirements.
  6. What exactly does this parking outrage seek to accomplish?  Tonight, city council meets to discuss and accept the parking recommendations from the Jacobs group.  The recommendations include addition of angled spots, parallel spots, and a myriad of other downtown urbanizations.  The parking part of the plan looks like a shoe-in, to me.  So why the long face, developers?
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6 thoughts on “Downtown parking: are we done yet?

  1. justin says:

    Yet Again,
    BikeDenton brings a well thought out, informative post on the future of Denton, i.e. the “Ent. Dist.”.

    Less parking, more walkable streets – as Dan stated. Lets work on the walkability.

  2. Caleb says:

    I’ve never had a problem finding parking downtown. I might have to, heaven forbid, WALK a block to get to my destination, but the parking is not horrible by any stretch of the imagination. The only time it is “bad” is during festivals, but even then I always seem to find something. BUT, I will also say being forward thinking is important and with the potential for growth in the area a few extra spaces wouldn’t hurt. Those complaining right now should take a trip to Uptown in Dallas and then tell me Denton has a parking problem.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I work on the square and have people come in all the time complaining about trouble parking and I don’t get it either. It’s funny, just this past week I had someone make the comment ” You sure would get more business if there was more parking right here..but y’all are missing out”.

    Not only is there a public lot by Wellsfargo, but the lot at Mulberry/Carroll (across the street from where the small farmers market sets up) is HUGE with plenty of available spots. I would say it’s about a 3 minute walk from there to the square.

    I also mention for people to check on the side streets such as Cedar, and further down Elm and Locust.

    One last thing to mention, cyclists tend to look over the bike racks! The city has put many up on corners around the square, but instead of using them I still see bikes tied up to the parking signs a couple feet away. That being said, I feel there’s always space for bikes, and plentiful watchful eyes (like myself) incase there are some thiefs amongst the crowds.

    Great write-up!

  4. Devin says:

    In 1959 all of the business owners bemoaned the lack of parking on the Square. They threatened the death of downtown if the city did not provide more parking. They even got their plan to a vote: Tear down that eyesore Courthouse and build a parking garage. Luckily for us, the citizens of Denton narrowly voted down the plan and we still have the Courthouse instead of a parking garage on the Square.

    If your business plan requires 40,000 sqft of parking for your 5,000 sqft business then perhaps it is not a good fit for the dense downtown area. Maybe you should look out on 288 or I-35. I hear there is plenty of parking at the Mall. Development downtown needs to fit the character of downtown. Dense, walkable, with street life and activity. The best way to increase the value of downtown is with infill, 6-10 storefronts per block, no dead zones of pavement. A parking lot for every business would result in 1-2 businesses per block and a sea of concrete, the exact thing that would drive customers away.

    If a developer wants to build a parking garage to provide parking options without wasting all of the real estate of downtown that is fine, but parking garages average $4,000 per stall in construction cost alone, a subsidy the taxpayers don’t need to foot in order to support a handful of businesses that don’t match the character of downtown.

  5. […] Downtown parking: are we done yet? from Bike Denton by bikedenton I just read DRC’s article from last weekend about the downtown parking woes.  Developers want the city to build more parking, or they say the area could face financial doom. […]

  6. Dav says:

    I can imagine few things more repulsive than a sea of concrete downtown. Perhaps one or two highly visible signs indicating that the Wells Fargo lot is public might help with the perception of parking difficulties?

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