Friday, January 11, 2008

Parking Non-Issue Trotted Out Again

Space invaders?
Even with Harrison Square project, officials think there’s enough parking downtown
Link (GFWBW)

"Parking is a topic that often comes up when talking about downtown Fort Wayne and its new projects, including Harrison Square.

While many say there currently isn’t enough parking, officials at some of the largest venues in the downtown area say it’s not that there isn’t enough parking, it’s that people may not want to walk a block or two to get to their destination.

“It’s a myth that there isn’t enough parking downtown,” said Michael Waskiewicz, director of marketing for the Downtown Improvement District. “There is ample parking with the garages, on-street parking and parking lots.”"
[...]
"“Parking is not as much of an issue as some think,” Lister said. “People may walk two to three blocks (at busy times).”

Greg Leatherman, redevelopment director for the city of Fort Wayne, added that when people say there isn’t enough parking, the general interpretation is that there is no space directly in front of the places they want to go.

“There is usually always parking within one to two blocks; there is no shortage,” Leatherman said. “Fort Wayne is now the 70th-largest city in the country, and I question whether the other 69 cities find free parking anywhere (as plentiful as in Fort Wayne).”"
[...]
"When the new baseball stadium that’s part of Harrison Square project has daytime games, that could reduce the availability of on-street parking. But the project also includes a parking garage connected to the new Courtyard by Marriott hotel that could be used by those attending games.

Although that may not be enough parking spaces for all the users that day, Gary Wasson, director of operations for the Grand Wayne Center, said that will mean walking traffic downtown.

“It gives an air of excitement having people walking around downtown,” Wasson said. “It’s a sense of activity with people moving in downtown and not moving through downtown.”

Wasson has been part of an ad-hoc committee made up of members from the Grand Wayne Center, the Embassy Theatre, the Allen County Public Library, the Civic Center parking garage and the Botanical Conservatory, among others. The committee looks at parking issues that come up during construction downtown in an effort to keep their patrons aware of where there is available parking.

Overall, the group believes there is adequate parking for its members’ needs, Wasson said.

“We need to communicate and educate our patrons on where parking is,” he said. “The biggest issue is they may have to break their normal parking patterns that causes the problem, meaning that their normal space where they park wasn’t available.”"

12 comments:

barranda said...

This article is B.S. I went to Toscani's the other day, and I had to put a QUARTER in the meter to exercise my god-given right to park within a few feet of the restaurant. I could have gone to Little Caesars and parked for FREE. I'm so mad!

Dan said...

I've lived in St. Louis, grew up in Detroit and spend a great deal of time in Indianapolis. If you can find parking in *any* of those cities with a walk of only a couple of blocks you're lucky. On top of that, you pay anywhere from $15-$25 per day for the privilege.

People in Fort Wayne are lazy when it comes to downtown parking. They want a spot right in front of where they're going.

Th4loBlue said...

I completely agree with you Dan. I've lived all over the world while in the military. People of Fort Wayne seem to get upset when the first row of parking near the mall is full. Walk an additional 20 steps and lose some weight. At least you can park within a block or two from where you want to be without being charged extensive fees.
I know in Phoenix it costs $75 to have a cab take you from the Air Force base to downtown. Just think, we could be paying much more in cab fare and not worry about parking.

Scott B. said...

But isn't that the problem Barranda? You would rather patronize a cheap national chain because parking is free than pay the unbelievably high price of 25 cents to park at a local store.

We need to get our priorities straight when it comes to these things. Local restaurant adding to the economy of the city vs. chain which could care less about the city.

northfortwayne said...

The first rule of business is "give the customer what they want." If we want people to visit downtown, don't insult them. Recognize the perceived parking issue is one to be overcome.

Those "chains" we ridicule are successful because they've done their due diligence, recognize they need to be where the people are, and give the customer what they want. For many that includes free parking.

I've lived in Chicago. I appreciate what a great deal we have here on parking. But Fort Wayne is NOT Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Phoenix or Detroit. Among the first of our priorities must be understanding our own market, and then giving the people what they want.

I'm in favor of downtown development as much as the next guy. Bemoaning the fact that residents would rather eat and shop where it's more "convenient" does little to help our cause. Insulting the very people we want to join us downtown doesn't help either.

I've suggested elsewhere that downtown eateries might overcome the parking issue by passing out free quarters, or offering a $15.00 voucher for a customer's next visit should they get a parking ticket. The reality is that those more "convenient" establishments DO PAY for parking for their guests. Those suburban parking lots aren't free to build, and the leasing company passes along that cost to its tenants. Downtown spots would do well to level the playing field.

We can certainly come up with creative ideas for overcoming the parking perception.

Wendy said...

Barranda, don't you know there's no room for sarcasm in these posts? Sheesh...

I absolutely am a believer that we don't have a parking problem, we have a walking problem. And agree that parking here is ridiculously cheap. However, to combat the perception or misconception that there is a problem, I think some better signage could help. People who don't venture downtown frequently are unsure where they, as civilians, are allowed to park. We might as well make it as easy as possible.

brian spaulding said...

For an excellent downtown parking map check this link....

http://www.fwembassytheatre.org/documents/Downtown_Parking_Map.pdf

barranda said...

I'm not sure if my sarcasm meter is broken or scott b.'s is broken. One of ours is definitely broken. Sadly, I can understand why some might not have picked up on my sarcasm.

NFW - you make some excellent points. I agree that perception is the problem. However, I'm not sure how you can fix that perception. Club Soda offers the vouchers you suggest, but the people that perceive downtown as waste of time probably don't know about them.

As Wendy notes, the worst perception is that walking is a bad thing. Downtown redevelopment is an ever ongoing process to ensure that a city plan is in place that makes people believe that walking downtown has value. Unless there's a parade going on, most people believe that there's just not much value in walking downtown. Right now, they aren't too far from the truth.

Th4loBlue said...

Summit Club offers free parking to its patrons. I'm sure some if not most of the current or up-coming businesses will follow suit.
We all just have to give it some time. Things are now just starting to change and the process will an ongoing one. Give it some time.

northfortwayne said...

Barranda,

Thanks for the tip. I didn't know ClubSoda was already offering vouchers. Good for them! Club Soda is a great success story for downtown development. They've proven their ability to meet the needs of their customers as well as change with the times, particularly regarding the smoking issue. Other establishments would benefit by following their lead.

Dave

Steve Linsenmayer said...

Looks like you'll have to paste the html for the parking map together. Its under the "about Us' section on the Embassy's web site. Here's the full version. (You'll probably want to delete the return.)

http://www.fwembassytheatre.org/
documents/Downtown_Parking_Map.pdf

The Embassy fields many questions from patrons about parking. The perception is that its limited, more so with the current construction going on. We'll be happy when the new parking garage is finished, but, for the most part, people can park within a few blocks for an evening show.

scott spaulding said...

Here's an HTML'ized link for the parking map Downtown Parking Map

There is also a link on the DFWB mainpage under the "Suggested Reading" heading (look for the Downtown Parking Map link)