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A Parking Solution for Mass Ave? It already exists.

The Urban Times has posted a story regarding the possible creation of TIF districts at 2 important projects along Mass Ave.  For the purposes of this post, I will focus on the parcel that contains the bulk of the discussion in the article, the northwest 500 block.

A sticking point for any development in this city is parking.  In this short paragraph, the article highlights the neighborhood’s desire for additional parking

Parking, in fact, was stressed more than once during the meeting. Fisher said any parking built into the redevelopment of the 500 block must not only meet the needs of the project itself, but also to create “a parking solution for Mass Ave.”

I’ve been to Mass Ave by automobile enough times to know that parking can be slightly difficult.  That does not mean it is impossible, or something that needs solving through a cost-prohibitive garage in this particular parcel.  Graeme Sharpe from our blog had this to say about the potential for garage on this difficult triangular parcel:

1.  You attract a tenant that pays a lease rate high enough to justify the developer putting parking in there.  I can’t imagine who this would be, even Circle Center Mall is losing their anchor tenants. If they want to go residential development than the prices will have to throw in an additional $150k per space just for parking, and that’s not very affordable.

2.  The developer builds the garage, but it is paid for by the users.  This would probably work out to be $30/day for a spot.  Can’t see that one penciling out with the accountants either.  And if it did, then there is no reason to require it because the free market would start building them.

In other words, the city is handcuffing developers, in an attractive section of town where development should be highly encouraged.

Furthermore, I also wondered about how much surface parking is actually in the Mass Ave Historic district at the moment.  After a quick calculation, it turned out that 45.7 percent of the district is actually a surface parking lot!  Here is a map of the parking lots:

I’m sure that a decent portion of these lots are private and exclusive to home owners or businesses, but that is more or less offset when you consider this map doesn’t include the amount of on-street parking in the neighborhood.  But that’s not all…these are only the parking lots located exactly inside the boundary.  Here is what the map looks like if you add a buffer out to 400 feet past the district, which is a reasonable distance for most people to walk.  The affected parcel is shown in Blue:

Yet this somehow isn’t enough for us.

There is plenty of parking in the neighborhood.  Sometimes people might actually have to pay for their spot, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

32 Responses to “ “A Parking Solution for Mass Ave? It already exists.”

  1. Louis Mahern says:

    Parking requirements imposed by the city are unnecessary. Let the developer figure it out. Maybe potential tenants won’t have cars or will figure it out or will be given a choice to pay the real increased costs attendant to a private parking space. There is a lot more parking on Mass Ave. now that the rates have been increased to reflect demand. There would be even more if the city (of whoever it was that won the contract) were to implement time of day pricing.

  2. IndyIndie says:

    As someone that has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years I can tell you that the parking issue is a problem but a relatively recent one as a result of more development and commercial/entertainment in the area. Part of the problem, however, is merely a perception problem from people who either 1) feel entitled to the street parking in front of their homes and 2) people that won’t walk a few blocks after they park. I will also say that when walking around at night in the area you notice a lot of empty/minimally used lots that are dedicated to a business that only requires them generally during the day.

    The most important point that your post missed is that when they say “parking solution” they mean looking out into the future as well as at the present. The desired is to enable increased development on the many surface parking lots that are frequently very interesting parcels that themselves are parking challenged.

  3. Jeffrey C says:

    Try to stop at Starbucks for coffee or to gran a bite at Hoaglin’s when a Murat show is starting in about an hour and then tell me if you feel the same way about parking. There are certain hot spots along the Avenue that are near impossible to get near when a major event is going on. While you don’t set policy for the exceptions, we also shouldn’t ignore them when considering what’s desirable.

    • John M says:

      What possible solution, other than acre upon acre of surface lots like we have in the northwest quad of downtown, would prevent a Murat show from creating a parking crunch in the immediate vicinity of the theater? Even when the Murat is hosting an event, I have found that one need not go further south than Ohio Street to find an open meter. That’s, what, two or three blocks? Sure, it’s not as convenient as going to a Starbucks in Avon, but the upside is that Mass Ave doesn’t look like Rockville Road.

      • Jeffrey C says:

        Just because your mileage may vary doesn’t mean you need to take such a righteous indignation tone in your response. As someone who has lived in the neighborhood off an on for 20 years, I have a pretty good sense of how far I have to go to get a parking spot and it is often much more than 2 or 3 blocks.

        • John M says:

          I didn’t mean to take a tone at all. I apologize if it came across that way. Still, Hoaglin and Starbucks are 2.5 blocks from the intersection of Alabama and Ohio. I generally have had little difficulty finding a parking spot on Ohio in front of the Firehouse townhouses, or on New Jersey between New York and Ohio. As a failsafe, there are almost always open spots on Wabash Street between Alabama and New Jersey except from 9-5 Monday through Friday. That’s three blocks, and a pretty pleasant walk along the Cultural Trail.

  4. There is only one parking policy that can give everyone the exact parking space they want at any given time. It’s called the suburbs. But here in the city, we have to accept that there are times we must walk a bit further to get our coffee.

    • JeffG says:

      The $30 per day per space quote seems too high for adding garage space to the development. That amounts to $900 per month for a space. One bedroom apartments rent for that monthly, which are easily 5+ times the size including sq ft needed access lanes and ramps per parking space (not to mentioned finished with appliances, fixtures, flooring, windows.) Can you justify this figure? I don’t doubt the monthly cost could be in the hundreds for a period of 10 to 20 years to pay the cost – but not $900.

      If the building is targeted at upper incomes this won’t be an issue. Secured, underground, covered parking will be a must have; and upper level up-scale units will have fantastic views up and down Mass Ave, over Chatham Arch and Lockerbie, and of course of Downtown. The owner can charge a higher rent for this amenity.

      Does anyone know if this is targeted at low or average income residents?

      • To make money back from a parking garage that is meant for short term use, you have to account for the spaces that are filled as well as the ones that are empty. You have the other expenses you mentioned, and some others including any manned booths, insurance and security costs, and management expenses. When its all said and done, parking garage rates (assuming no public subsidy) are actually pretty high if someone wants to turn a profit of 15%-20%.

        Parking can be made cheaper if it is filled with long-term users with reserved spaces, or if paid for by public money with access to cheaper financing terms and no incentive to make a profit. But my understanding about this deal is that the city intends it to be for short-term use and not publicly financed. Similar garages in Chicago charge about $50/day.

        • JeffG says:

          Gotcha. I had assumed a garage here would be for tenants and not a public garage. I wonder what the monthly price would be per space if built for tenant parking? I can see adding an extra $150 to $300 monthly to rent or fees for each apartment or condo. A public garage in Mass Ave would get very little use at this time except peak use during events or weekends.

  5. JP says:

    I lived on Mass (not so long ago), and I still frequently go there (shows, bars, etc). I never had any problem parking. In worst case scenario, I had parked around Broadway and Arch, which should be walking distance for pretty much everyone.
    *
    Looking ahead, hopefully we won’t need so much parking since I’m counting on the mass transit to take off. The only “parking problem” on Mass is the under-utilization of private lots or too much parking space for such an urban setting.

  6. Joe Smoker says:

    This city and this area have three problems:

    1) Lack of cross parking agreements. Like IndyIndie said, there are numerous business and other private lots that have signs or access limiting them to use for employees at all times, eventhough they are empty at night.

    2) The lack of available transit options. It is beyond a broken record of the woes Indy faces with transportation. I bike, so parking isn’t too much of an issue for me, but unless you have 2 hours to kill and want to be home by 10 or 11, you probably will drive instead of take Indygo.

    3) The mindset that a parking space is reserved in front of the business you want to go to for you. It kills me when I am riding with a friend or relative and they drive right up to Yats ro whatever and expect to park there, then they get upset when they are full and go into some sort of suburban ritual of concentric circles, but ultimately expect to come back to that same spot.

    1&2 are purely policy/development issues that may be sorted out with Indyconnect and future development. 3 is as simple as relaxing, knowing you aren’t in Castleton and assuming you may have to walk. It isn’t a chore, honestly. You may just find that parking the car away from the activity and walking to one or more destinations is enjoyable. You see things you usually miss and might even meet up with a friend by accident. We wonder why there is so much stress and anxiety these days, look no further than your idea of transportation. Cars take up a HUGE amount of space. When any of us can step away from them, we all win.

  7. Josh says:

    I agree with the comments that there is a mindset issue more than a structural issue. People routinely walk huge distances once inside stores, but get very upset to walk an extra forty feet from the front entrance. It is silly, but it is also very much a real mindset that people need to be weened off of.

  8. Joe Smoker says:

    I just thought about the disconnect on the 500 block with the station and the set back housing tower. Maybe this development will change the mentality that parking north of this blocks is “soooo far away” from the south or visa versa…….probably small potatos but still

  9. I just spent a good part of the morning reading this article about LA’s desire for free parking everywhere we go. Seems appropriate for this post and its comments.

  10. Eric says:

    I have never had a problem finding a metered on-street space within a block or two of my destination. The problem I have is that the metered spaces are not free late enough in the afternoon or on the weekends anymore, so I’m going to Mass Ave less.

  11. JeffG says:

    Put a value on a surface lot along Mass Ave. Actually more like a negative value or cost for each one that exists. Mass Ave’s biggest asset to the city is creating a cultural alternative to the “newness” of Hamilton and Boone Counties. The surface lots look bad, create disconnect, and directly detract from the vibrancy needed to get people moving downtown (i.e. negative effect on much needed economic demand). Many of my classmates form IU Med graduated and took jobs at crummy hospitals in Chicago merely to live in a more urban city for several years during residency. The disconnect block-to-block, primarily due to surface lots, is one of the forces driving professionals out of the city.

    But if the surface lots along Mass Ave are developed, which is my hope, the parking situation will become increasingly tight with each space lost. As Kevin pointed out, the cost of a space ($30/day for how long?) may be prohibitively high. To overcome that, a critical mass of development on existing surface lots would be needed to create the economic conditions for garage construction. I’ll argue that developing these lots for residencies, offices, boutique hotels, and commercial space (removing that negative value) is an economic and cultural boost to offset much of the cost of a garage in the vicinity. The NW quadrant has the same problem. The city would likely get a net return on jobs, taxes, and growth to build a garage for One America in return for the 3-4 blocks of surface lots.

  12. flavius says:

    We are only having this discussion because the city is pushing development in one of the few areas of town that is just about right as-is. Why not instead encourage development on Washington along the future BRT line, where dense but underutilized buildings already exist; or on the MSA site; or where it would link downtown with nearby developing areas such as the canal.

    • Idyllic Indy says:

      Agreed. If the City has to subsidize developments at Delaware & South and on Mass Ave, where can we possibly expect to see any private market development? It’s as if the administration believes that nothing will happen anywhere in the City without government assistance. I believe that sends a pretty negative signal to the public and sends a message to developers that they shouldn’t embark any project without city subsidies.

      Oh, and to get on topic, there is no parking problem along Mass Ave that needs to be solved by a government subsidized parking structure. If we regained control of our on-street parking, we could provide shorter-term parking at meters, so that shoppers and diners could have convenient short-term parking near short-visit destinations, such as Starbuck’s, while long-term parkers, such as those attending Murat events would use long-term lots.

      • JP says:

        That’s why I keep telling some of my conservative anti-public transportation friends, that I am more for free capitalism than any of them. In the case of Mass Ave, if the city said no to any subsidies, and got rid of any parking requirements for new development (what’s more free capitalism than no subsidies and no regulation!?), the end result would be no public garage and more dense development on the empty lots. For instance, I am pretty sure if they built an apartment building without a single parking space on Mass Ave that it would have no problem renting out. This is totally based on my personal experience and anecdotal evidence, but I think the demand is there.
        *
        Of course, I am not arguing against any parking. I understand that some parking requirements are needed. But it’s interesting how people who want public transportation typically get labeled “socialists asking for a hand-out”, but people in support of car-centric society are somehow for smaller government.

  13. Lara says:

    Obviously, people everywhere in the world like to complain about the lack of parking spaces. In Canada, we are no different. However, I can tell you sometimes it takes just a little bit of extra time (and perhaps nerves) and I can easily find some free parking spots in Toronto, even though the traffic is literally terrible here.

  14. IndyIndie says:

    This is probably a little off topic, but I’d like to point out another “parking problem” in the area. The fact that the streets in Lockerbie Square are limited to residential permit parking only. This is and ABSURD policy for an urban neighborhood and should be done away with.

    • Eric says:

      Residential permit parking is pretty standard for major cities- Chicago, San Fransisco, NYC, etc. I’m guessing you don’t live in Lockerbie Square.

  15. Micah says:

    flavius: why focus on redevelopment the 500 block (fire station) and the 800 block (Coca Cola building)? Because the properties are prime real estate and totally under utilized. You really want IPS to store busses on a huge lot right by the most beautiful piece of Art Deco architecture? And how would you argue for the existing fire station and her credit union as fitting in with the neighborhood? Just curious. I am all for BRT on Washington to spur future development also…if this city can get creative?

  16. Micah says:

    This city would make a huge mistake if the ’boutique hotel proposal’ for the 500 block is not selected. I know the money from FL has to be legit, BUT if it is…why not? The site needs a diverse mix of residential and commercial to establish MASS AVE as a true arts district. What’s that I hear WORLD CLASS CITY promoters?

  17. Bow says:

    I have to laugh every time I hear issues regarding Mass. Ave. Here are a few basic items to consider (well one actually): Mass is what it today because because the Indy Gay community considered it a focal point for a high concentration of GLBTQ of the community in that area.. The city knows this all to well.

    This is bascialy city is counting on the Gay community to help Fountain Square turn it into a success.

  18. Ceh says:

    We used to live and work on Mass Ave, it really needs parking garages and neighborhood parking permits. We pay $140 a year on the north side of Chicago for a permit that allows us a chance to park on the streets around our neighborhood, it is permit parking from 5pm-9am in the neighborhoods and open during the day when people leave for work. We can rent parking from $150-$400 a month in garages and a few surface lots. I still love Indy and have great things to always say about it, but one thing I hate is that there has to be a study, then discussion, then another study, then another discussion to build anything….even a parking garage, that is the small town thinking that will cause Indy never to be a “Big City”….also Mass Transit I ride two trains a day 45min-1hr each way to work, Mass Transit is critical to Indianapolis growth.

    • Parking garages are exceedingly expensive to build, and ones that would be build along Mass Ave would have to be angled, which cuts in to the efficiency of the garage layout even more. I do agree that resident parking permits is a good idea for Mass Ave.

      • ahow628 says:

        There isn’t a whole lot, but there are some residential only spots in Lockerbie. I’ve not seen any in Mass Ave though. The two problems with the resident is that 1) it is 24/7 and 2) it isn’t enforced.

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