The local media reported recently on an announcement by the city that they have chosen to lease the operation of metered parking to ACS, a private company out of Dallas, TX. Kirsten of Urban Indy reported on this previously before the announcement and discussed what it could mean for the future of parking. There were many things pointed out such as how this has failed cities like Chicago with the political will to do this on the city level. She has an analysis of the released proposal up now as well. Aaron Renn of the Urbanophile seems to be talking a lot about this lately in regards to Chicago, and Indianapolis and in the larger context, private leasing of public infrastructure. It tackles the policy side more than the planning and and public interface side of things, although he does touch on that as well. It’s good reading if you have the time.
The target of this article is based upon a statement made by Mayor Greg Ballard regarding the Broad Ripple neighborhood. He stated, “ …the $35 million from ACS will be used in part to pay for a new parking garage in Broad Ripple. The city is already scouting locations and hope to announce details in the near future.”
Recently, Broad Ripple Village business owners made a plea for more parking in the village area in the form of a “parking garage”. They asked for this apparently to reduce the amount of walking that people have to do to get to their shops. They also cited areas like Glendale (located at 62nd & Keystone Ave roughly a mile away) would be taking their shoppers when people couldn’t find quick parking in the Village. Glendale, they claim, can do this largely in part to it’s mall heritage and glut of open parking that is ALWAYS available. Users there are never charged a penny to park.
If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting the Broad Ripple village, you will note that parking IS a major concern. Especially for those not familiar with the area. And while the strip through the village makes for a nearly non-existant chance at parking ,if you merely drive a few blocks off that beaten path, you are likely to find parking. Most any place you will park throughout the neighborhood will highlight the more 2nd tier set of businesses that while equally as charming are not on the Avenue.
However, comparing the Broad Ripple shopping experience and the Glendale shopping experience is on the surface laughable. Glendale contains a Target, Macy’s and a few chain restaurants. Conversely, Broad Ripple is by a large majority, niche local businesses with only a few small chains permeating the mix. Additionally, my wife pointed out that on a recent trip to Broad Ripple to make some business meetings, she was unable to locate business hours on a handfull of shops located on or near the strip; that were closed in the middle of the day. Perhaps those same business owners complaining about business lost to Glendale would be able to retain said “lost business” if they were frank about when they are open? I digress…
With all this in mind, in a recent meeting, some business owners asked that a parking garage be constructed somewhere in the neighborhood. Even more alarming, was at the meeting that was conducted, Ryan Vaughn, City-County Council president and representative of the area, proclaimed his support for just such a structure.
I’d be remiss at this point if I wasn’t proclaiming my continued dismay at this idea. As those of you who follow me know, I am a HUGE advocate of an improved transit system for Indianapolis. Broad Ripple is a prime target for some sort of transportation improvement whether it is in the form of increased frequency of buses, or more attractive streetcar service from downtown; as has been advocated by many a people in the area. On the surface, I agree with a price increase in parking. It’s been literally decades since this happened, and I philosophically believe that a doubling in parking rates will cause people to think twice about parking and look at cheaper, and more sustainable, options like taking the bus. The downstream affect of this is building a trend of increased ridership, lower parking requirements for downtown development, and an increase in good urban design that also has the happy offset of increased tax revenue. But that is walking a long line of,”if this happens, that will happens”
As a group, we at Urban Indy have spent some time discussing this issue. At this point the parking garage plan has the backing of the City Council area rep & president. The Mayor, and the largely vocal Broad Ripple Village business owners. That likely means, a parking garage is coming. So how do urbanists try and get their fair share of this pie? We can look at other examples of parking garages good and bad. A typical downtown parking garage usually takes up a lot of space and has no interface with the public. FAIL.
We can look at the Ivy Tech Multimodal Center being constructed at the Indianapolis campus located at Fall Creek Parkway and Meridian Street. It will be 4 floors tall with the top 3 floors consisting of automobile parking. The ground floor will contain a library and a Bus Transit center. I have not been on site recently to survey the progress but on the surface, that is a good mixing of the available transit modes and the library is obviously a win.
In Bloomington, IN (and I have never seen this structure at all) there is another garage with a Scotty’s Brewhouse (regional bar) and a Subway that both seem to be doing well.
Both of these models offer something which the city could look at when designing a structure for the Broad Ripple area. With all the parking garages going up around town, there should be some sort of accountability for the continued promotion of automobile oriented transportation that is wildly proliferating around town. Just off the top of my head, I know that Wishard will be getting a huge parking structure. IUPUI is finishing up the California Street garage, and recently, Clarian announced an expansion in the area of 16th and Capital, which will also (surprise…) include an 1100 space garage; albeit with some allowance for first floor commercial space for medical and perhaps some other street level access.
A wish list of features that we at Urban Indy would like to see:
1. Include attractive first floor retail spaces
2. Match style of nearby structures
3. Address sidewalk directly; no pedestrian tunnels, skywalks, or interior mall spaces
4. Design structure so it can be repurposed into another use when Indy transit system reduces need for extra parking
5. Enact a market based pricing scheme for all parking spots (on-street and structure)
6. Include reduced/subsidized parking for bicyclists (and lockers/shower facilities)
7. Eliminate all on-site/off-street parking requirements for local properties