At the City Council’s Tuesday meeting, the Council voted to approve the site plan for the new underground parking structure at Fifth Avenue (also known as the Library Lot). This structure will add 670 spaces and will cost about $55 million to construct.
In an effort to facilitate some discussion about the recently approved underground parking structure, I’ve put together a list of pros and cons.
This list is compiled from emails I have received, arguments I have heard, and comments at the Council Meeting, which I attended. Since the Ann Arbor Chronicle did a wonderful job capturing the comments at the City Council Meeting, I pulled a lot of these pros and cons from their recent article.
Underground Parking Structure Pros and Cons
- The underground structure is an investment in downtown and the entire community, which would support new development as well as existing businesses.
- Building parking underground is more expensive but it creates a better urban fabric than above ground parking. And you will be able to create active uses on top of the structure.
- It’s a good time to build the structure because materials costs are low and the construction will help create local jobs
- The additional spaces would bring more people downtown to help support the retail base that’s here.
- Local business owners have heard about customers who have not come to shop in their stores because of the lack of parking. The parking system is at capacity. The new parking structure would help to increase capacity so there are more spaces for customers to park
- Churches and other religious organizations depend on the parking structures for their events. Increasing parking will be positive for these organizations.
- Because of students, construction workers and the fact that Liberty Square is only open to monthly parkers, more parking is needed and the underground structure will help to alleviate that.
- In order to attract larger employers to the downtown, there needs to be more capacity in the parking system so that parking spaces can be offered to employers. Employers are leaving downtown because they cannot get additional spaces.
- The underground garage will support an overall transportation plan, which also encompasses go!passes, buses, pedestrians and cyclists. It is one approach among many that the DDA and City are using to increase downtown vitality.
- Just because it’s possible for near-downtown residents to walk or bicycle into downtown, it’s not necessarily possible for everyone. A huge percentage of downtown visitors come from all over our region. And those people are not just going to walk, they need a place to park.
- Automobiles are currently a part of our transportation reality: people drive into Ann Arbor from outlying areas. The ultimate goal is to move forward in the future to where people have more options (like transit and rail). The reality that currently exists, though, includes automobiles. Based on the both the 2007 Nelson\Nygaard study and the anecdotal data, it’s clear that the parking system is at capacity and that we need to increase it.
- The city is losing business in the downtown area because there is inadequate parking.
- We need more parking if we are going to grow the downtown.
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- The underground parking structure seems to be part of a package of developing a conference center, which has not had adequate community feedback. There is citizen concern about what is going to go on top.
- Have we really done everything possible as laid out in Nelson/Nygaard parking study prior to building more parking? Are there more cost effective approaches such as expanding the Park and Ride Lot system, creating more express buses, running buses later into the night, etc.?
- The underground garage doesn’t correlate with environmentalism, but runs counter to the best concepts in environmentalism. People should park on the perimeter and use public transportation into the downtown.
- There are many nuances and data on parking system use and hourly users that need to be examined more closely before more parking is built.
How do we know that the underground parking structure will support business in the State Street Area?
- The underground garage had been considered from an economic standpoint, but not from the standpoint of the environment or social equity.
- According to the City’s CFO, the project is “not affordable with the plans they have.”
- It’s probably possible to walk from one side of town to the other using parking lots, yet people say the downtown needs more parking.
- Building an underground parking structure is not a novel or innovative approach to solving the downtown parking issue.
- The city could build forever and never accommodate all the people who want to park in this town.
- There has not been enough public input on the structure.
- What could $55 million do for public transportation?
- Building an underground parking structure is not a sustainable solution.
- The main reason that businesses don’t want to locate downtown is the overpriced commercial real estate prices, not a lack of parking.