I think it’s so cute when Columbus’ little suburbs try to be all growns up.
Seriously though, I’m not a big fan of parking garages in general, but I see them as a more necessary evil in the suburbs, where transit service is sparse. Plus, if parking garages allow the suburbs to create active, walkable downtowns, then it is a very good thing.
Suburbs embrace parking garages
Local town-center trend creates need for spaces for cars
Monday, January 12, 2009 3:12 AM
By Martin Rozenman
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Something decidedly not like it used to be has crept into many central Ohio suburbs’ plans to reinvigorate their downtowns: the parking garage.
Planners are redesigning their town centers into more attractive, walkable locations that recall small-town America’s past. They plot compact collections of stores, restaurants and offices that promote the mantra of the ’00s: Live, work and play here.
But where do workers, shoppers and residents park their cars?
The parking garage is an efficient way to use land, officials say. Space-challenged suburbs look to grow up when they can’t grow out. And dense development usually benefits city tax rolls more than sprawl does.
“I think parking garages go with a national resurgence of trying to revitalize downtowns,” Gahanna Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said.
Gahanna might be the first Columbus suburb with a full-fledged parking garage. Its Creekside development includes a structure with 381 public spaces and about 120 private spaces, she said.
The garage is invisible from the street, because it’s the core of the condo building, and most of the public parking is underground, Stinchcomb said.
Grove City officials plan a two-deck parking garage for about 250 cars behind City Hall as part of a downtown redevelopment.
Grandview Heights could have several parking garages in its 80-acre Grandview Yard project, which is to combine commercial, retail and residential space between Goodale Boulevard and W. 3rd Avenue.
Dublin probably will consider a garage in its historic district as development occurs there.
Upper Arlington officials have talked about a parking garage as part of the Kingsdale Shopping Center redevelopment.
In New Albany, a two-level parking deck could be part of a town-center makeover.
Westerville City Manager Dave Collinsworth said his suburb has a small parking deck that serves its library, but nothing else is planned.
“We’re pretty much all surface lots at this time,” he said. “I can’t predict what the future will hold. Concepts have been floated from time to time about structured parking.
“The challenge with the parking garages is the tremendous cost,” he said, pointing to the costs of operation and maintenance after one is built.
An open-air lot requires only the initial cost and occasional resealing, Collinsworth said.
Stinchcomb said the biggest challenge Gahanna’s parking garage has encountered is getting people to understand its value.
“We charge to park there,” she said. “It’s inexpensive. The first 30 minutes are free, and it’s $1 an hour after that. The money helps us repay the cost to build it.”
The garage has been full for special events and holidays, Stinchcomb said.
“It’s not full all the time, certainly not on a Tuesday afternoon. We expect moderate use.
“We’re taking it slowly. There’s a perception problem for some people who don’t want to pay to park. There’s a perception that it’s always free to park in the suburbs.”
Nonetheless, she said, “I’m glad we built it. … We’re kind of a pioneer in this. Lots of cities are following. We’re kind of creating a downtown for the first time. Parking was a complaint people have had well before Creekside.”
Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt is one area official who’s not a parking-garage fan. Asked when his suburb might consider one, he said: “I hope never.
“I think what we’re trying to do is make our community more pedestrian-friendly, so people will leave their cars at home. I don’t think we want to be in the business of promoting additional uses of the automobile.”