26 July 2010

Costs of Washington Park (ing)



Cars are a twentieth century reality, and so far, they continue to be a reality in this century. And as long as personal autos are the dominant form of transportation, then we must have places to park them. In the city, this often results in demolition for surface lots or construction of ugly garages.

And in any form, parking spaces are expensive. The expense is two fold: first is the actual money required to build and maintain parking spaces, and the other is the waste of land. In order to avoid the latter (the creation of huge wastelands of parking around places of public assembly such as sports stadia or places like Music Hall), garages are required.

A simple suburban asphalt parking lot is more expensive than many people think. First there is the cost of the land itself. Then the preparation of the land, the gravel base and the asphalt and lighting. Also there is the drainage. Large parking lots require lots of collection and detention of stormwater, and this system requires design and maintenance. The result is that suburban surface parking lots often end up costing $5,000 per parking space.

But when garages are required, then the numbers really start to get high. $30,000 is a standard quoted amount.

So all of this has been in my mind as I was hearing about the development of underground parking at Washington Park. The area that will get the underground parking was the location of Washington Park Elementary. It now is a large gravel lot and our local swimming pool, which sits empty this year.


At Washington Park, they are building 450 parking spaces for a cost of 27 million. The park itself is estimated to cost 20 million more, with a total of $47 million. But look at that number for the underground parking. If my math is right, that is $60,000 per parking space. Think about the numbers for a minute. At that rate, the cost of the Cincinnati Streetcar is equal to about 2,000 parking spaces!

I am not saying parking under Washington Park is a bad idea. I'm certainly not saying the streetcar is too expensive, but just look at the comparison. Cars are very expensive, and in this discussion we are just talking about the spaces to park them when they are not in use! Nevermind the insurance, gas, environmental destruction, the wars for oil etc etc. This is just parking them somewhere!

My only point is that parking is not free. Someone pays for it. In the city, users must pay for it by paying a usage fee. In the suburbs, it is paid for by the stores owners. But who pays for the sheer ugliness of a 10 acre parking lot? There are many parking spaces at shopping malls that only get used once a year. But the land is ruined for all 365.

I read somewhere recently that "the cost of all parking spaces in the U.S. exceeds the value of all cars and may even exceed the value of all roads."

Parking costs billions of dollars a year.

And all we want is an option. An option to walk and an option to for transit that supports walking and biking.

On a related note, click here to view an expensive underground car park in Budapest.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post! People alway bemoan how much we 'subsidize' mass transit but ignore the huge hidden cost of parking, roads and all the other things that come with being car dependent.

Anonymous said...

Who, exactly, is OTR ("... a plan that OTR has never approved...")?

Apparently they did approve the vote to let the building go vacant and rotten, allow drug trafficing, and not work to restore a once thriving district.

At least they are putting the parking underground (saving the park space for non-auto use). Thats a small victory.

Scott said...

There is a small group of people that do not want any development in OTR. I've never met them, but they do get quoted in newspapers. I have no idea what they actually do other than wish poverty & dilapidation on OTR.

Every OTR resident that I know loves development. We like places to eat, shop, visit, learn & participate.

FYI, I've lived in the 1300 block of Main Street for about 3 1/2 years now.

Radarman said...

The people who currently pay (a lot) to park across the street from Music Hall for CSO and Opera events tend to be major donors, without whose support the institutions would likely wither. They will love the new garage and pay through the nose to use it, and they're very nice people, but they are also terminally suburban. It's a problem.

Quimbob said...

You also have more than one parking spot. Figure 1 at home, 1 at work & the spaces around town that you use when you go out. Add to that, the spaces are not in use a majority of the time. $$$$$
That garage in Budapest is pretty nuts. What happens when there is a power outage?
:-)

Anonymous said...

anon2, OTR is a neighborhood made up of the ocmmunity that lives there. Throughout 3CDC's "public" meetings the expressed things they would like to continue to see in the park like basket ball courts, old growth trees and the deep water pool-the only one in the neighborhood.

Scott, it is clear you have never met or talked to the people you think are against development. The fact is they are simply against gentrification that pushes poorpeople out of their own communities.

Many of us believe that we should have equitabloe development which keeps the neighbors in their own neighborhood. We believe that mixed income neighborhoods are diverse and more desirable that gentrified neighborhoods. They are also more just since a huge amount of our tax dollars are being spent on this development.

Nobody wants poverty and dilapidation, but pushing poor people out of their neighborhood and allowing rich developers to collect tax dollars meant to serve those poor communities only perpetuates poverty and moves it around.

We aren't opposed to a parking garage. We just don't think they should expand the park while ignoring what is important to the people that lives there (basket ball courts, old growth trees and a deep water pool).

One concern is that the changes that 3CDC is proposing not only take over $20 million in our tax dollars, but it will also cost the city $450,000 a year for up keep. It currently only costs the city $45,000 a year. 3CDC keeps the garage revenue and the city pays so much of the costs. Meanwhile the input from the community gets ignored again.

Anonymous said...

Who would want to swim in a pool where a large bunch of homeless might consider using it as a bathtub.
Has anyone actually lived near a basketball court - it is not exactly a quiet area, not even with just one person shooting hoops.
I have heard parking would be eliminated on the street around the perimeter of Washington Park. Is that during construction or permanently. If permanently what is the reason? - just wondered.
Music Hall is patronized by people from all over not just the neighborhood so parking is a must unfortunately. Better underground than a lot.
I don't live near a city swimming pool, let alone three pools that I could walk to. With out WP pool you still have two - must be nice.
Sorry to stray from the parking issue.
By the way, your neighbor, WN, on Central Parkway is alive and well. The Lebanon store closed YEARS ago.

Paul Wilham said...

I think the 3CDC plan clearly looks at the future. Demographics in OTR are changing and good development must look at future uses not look backward.

Clearly the parking garage is tied in to the Music house and other big events that can happen in the park, and I like the fact we are getting parking underground.

I'd like to see that same thing happen at the Findlay North lot with new low rise (3 story)mixed use historic appropriate commercial/condo development happen.

The people who area against change are for the most part people who pay no taxes, are subsidized by the government in one way or another , either section 8, welfare or food stamps or are totallly off the grid, OR, they work for some social service or non profit and are worried about the 'client base' going away and their losing their job "helping them".

As OTR turns around parking is needed because people will visit OTR, they will visit friends and they will shop there. This plan looks forward not back.

Anonymous said...

One of the main reasons the Washington Park parking garage is so expensive is the fact that there will be a park on top of it. The loads of the soil, vegetation, trees, sidewalks, etc. require not only a structure with enough strength but also a structure that is completely waterproof. Waterproofing a structure with any type of green roof or vegetation above is both challenging and expensive. However, in cases like this, it is worth the money to preserve significant green space in OTR. Furthermore, there is a tremendous amount of excavation required for an underground garage, obviously, compared to an above ground garage which adds costs.

While there are some valid reasons for opposing this plan, the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages. The future vibrancy of OTR depends not only on its residents (current and new) but also on residents across the Cincinnati region who visit for Music Hall, Findlay Market, bars, restaurants, etc. Convenience must be a priority for these visitors. Anyone who has attended Music Hall for a performance knows how much of an improvement a garage across the street would be. They could easily collect $10-$20 from patrons per vehicle per event for this convenience.

Anonymous said...

Couple of comments:

1) Overall, I agree with most of your post, esp. the costs. 60K per space! Wow. I'm pretty sure we could build a nice, warm small furnished home/condo for each car at that price. HOWEVER, there is a cost to NOT providing parking, i.e. the patrons of MH and the new business/restaurants/etc. have to have somewhere safe and close by to park. Without that, people will just not come. Even with a streetcar, people aren't going to pay to park at the Banks and then pay to ride the streetcar, to and from the event. Not in Cincinnati -- won't happen.

2) Another Wow:
The people who area against change are for the most part people who pay no taxes, are subsidized by the government in one way or another , either section 8, welfare or food stamps or are totallly off the grid, OR, they work for some social service or non profit and are worried about the 'client base' going away and their losing their job "helping them".

Nobody has anything to say about that? If Mark Miller had posted it, BlueAshMom and Schwartz would be all over it.

3) They could easily collect $10-$20 from patrons per vehicle per event for this convenience.

We are symphony subscribers, but here's my take:

$5 - yes
$10 - maybe, if I'm running late
$20 - forget about it.

-kid-cincy (can't remember my password)

Anonymous said...

Do we not have an option to walk and take transit? I think do have that option, and it is increasingly more appealing. What we are starting to lack, especially around the park, is well, parking.

They should make street parking resident permit parking and force the Visitors to use the pay options in order to pay for the expenses, not grant public dollars in the name of community development, when the community they are developing for doesn't yet exist.

Phooey

Anonymous said...

"Has anyone actually lived near a basketball court - it is not exactly a quiet area, not even with just one person shooting hoops."

Yes, the residents in OTR that have said how important it is to them. God forbid we have basket ball courts in a park. I'm sure it is so much louder than a dog park and sprinler.

"I have heard parking would be eliminated on the street around the perimeter of Washington Park. Is that during construction or permanently. If permanently what is the reason? - just wondered."

Yes it is permanently. 3CDC is in the garage business and they make a lot of money from them. They don't want cheaper spots (free at night) competeing with their expensive spaces.

"I don't live near a city swimming pool, let alone three pools that I could walk to. With out WP pool you still have two - must be nice$"

You are misinformed. The pools have been closed so kids will have to learn to swim in a sprinkler.

"I think the 3CDC plan clearly looks at the future. Demographics in OTR are changing and good development must look at future uses not look backward."

Yes, a gentrified future where rich white people like Paul Wilham won't have to look at poor black people. All this is being down with tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

"The people who area against change are for the most part people who pay no taxes, are subsidized by the government in one way or another , either section 8, welfare or food stamps or are totallly off the grid, OR, they work for some social service or non profit and are worried about the 'client base' going away and their losing their job "helping them"."

Paul is both racist and classist. Apparently he only talks to other rich white conservatives. I know plenty of people that believe in mixed income neighborhoods that are diverse. And this guy claims to have lived in other cities?

"As OTR turns around parking is needed because people will visit OTR, they will visit friends and they will shop there. This plan looks forward not back."

Then why is 3CDC getting rid of street parking? Why is the city changing requirements for developers to require less parking? I thought the streetcar was going to get rid of the need for so much parking.

"While there are some valid reasons for opposing this plan, the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages."

Actually nobody is opposed to improving the park at all. They are opposed to getting rid of old growth trees, basket ball courts, street parking and the pool. I think people like the idea of expanding the park, but many oppose 3CDC ignoring the things that are important to the residents that came to all the meetings over the years to express their opinions.

I think making street parking resident parking is a great idea. The permits could help generate parking revenue for the city and would be cheaper and more convenient for residents. It's too bad 3CDC doesn't care about what the residents wants and needs are.

There already is parking for Music Hall.

Anonymous said...

"Has anyone actually lived near a basketball court - it is not exactly a quiet area, not even with just one person shooting hoops."

Yes, the residents in OTR that have said how important it is to them. God forbid we have basket ball courts in a park. I'm sure it is so much louder than a dog park and sprinler.

"I have heard parking would be eliminated on the street around the perimeter of Washington Park. Is that during construction or permanently. If permanently what is the reason? - just wondered."

Yes it is permanently. 3CDC is in the garage business and they make a lot of money from them. They don't want cheaper spots (free at night) competeing with their expensive spaces.

"I don't live near a city swimming pool, let alone three pools that I could walk to. With out WP pool you still have two - must be nice$"

You are misinformed. The pools have been closed so kids will have to learn to swim in a sprinkler.

"I think the 3CDC plan clearly looks at the future. Demographics in OTR are changing and good development must look at future uses not look backward."

Yes, a gentrified future where rich white people like Paul Wilham won't have to look at poor black people. All this is being down with tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

"The people who area against change are for the most part people who pay no taxes, are subsidized by the government in one way or another , either section 8, welfare or food stamps or are totallly off the grid, OR, they work for some social service or non profit and are worried about the 'client base' going away and their losing their job "helping them"."

Paul is both racist and classist. Apparently he only talks to other rich white conservatives. I know plenty of people that believe in mixed income neighborhoods that are diverse. And this guy claims to have lived in other cities?

"As OTR turns around parking is needed because people will visit OTR, they will visit friends and they will shop there. This plan looks forward not back."

Then why is 3CDC getting rid of street parking? Why is the city changing requirements for developers to require less parking? I thought the streetcar was going to get rid of the need for so much parking.

"While there are some valid reasons for opposing this plan, the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages."

Actually nobody is opposed to improving the park at all. They are opposed to getting rid of old growth trees, basket ball courts, street parking and the pool. I think people like the idea of expanding the park, but many oppose 3CDC ignoring the things that are important to the residents that came to all the meetings over the years to express their opinions.

I think making street parking resident parking is a great idea. The permits could help generate parking revenue for the city and would be cheaper and more convenient for residents. It's too bad 3CDC doesn't care about what the residents wants and needs are.

There already is parking for Music Hall.

Anonymous said...

To the misinformed: You may learn to swim at 2, yes 2 city pools in OTR. One is located at 1311 Sycamore and the other at 226 Stark. Yes, they are closed... at night!
Yep, lived next to a basketball court. It was really distracting at all hours especially when trying to study/work. Not so much the yelling and screaming but the constant hitting of the ball to the pavement. Isn't there going to be a court at the SCPA that non-students can use anyway?
I'd like to know the real reason for the elimination of parking around the "new" Washington Park. Is it so people won't congregate around their cars? Or so the view is not obstructed to the park, or for traffic flow(doubt). If it is so that the garage would be used, wouldn't people just park on the other side of the street or near by? Parking permits for residents only is a good idea.
I wonder what they will find when they start excavating for the garage.

5chw4r7z said...

The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup, an urban planning professor at UCLA. http://shoup.bol.ucla.edu

He reports that in 2002 between $127 billion and $374 billion a year was spent nationally to subsidize off-street parking, as much as the U.S. spent on Medicare or national defense that year