By Alyssa Schnugg
According to a recent survey, 45 percent of people who shop on the Square say they will use the future downtown parking garage once it’s complete while the majority of employees who were surveyed, 39 percent, said they won’t use the garage.
Kimley-Horn Parking Consultants, hired by the city at the recommendation of the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission, put the survey online in November following a public meeting with several downtown business owners. Representatives presented the survey results to DPAC Friday during their regular meeting at City Hall.
A total of 490 people completed the survey. Of those, 367 classified themselves as Square customers; 88 said they were employees and 35 said they were business owners.
Employees said they are mostly concerned with the cost of parking; however, they were almost equally concerned with the availability of parking. Almost 40 percent of customers said they are most concerned about parking availability with about 31 percent saying they are most concerned about the cost of parking.
Of the 35 business owners surveyed, 44 percent said they are not interested in paying for their employees’ parking if parking permits were available while 40 percent said they would pay for employee parking permits. About 16 percent said they would pay for some employees to park – for example, full-time employees or management.
A few business owners attended Friday’s meeting and told the commission they would like to pay for parking permits for their employees if they are affordable. Some said “affordable” would be about $10-15 a month per employee.
When asked how they got to the Square generally, most of those surveyed said they drove their own vehicle most often but a high number of everyone who answered said they carpool. The number of people who said they take a cab or Uber was about the same across employees, workers and customers; however, customers and employees said they take the bus more often than business owners, but more business owners said they walk to the Square than employees or customers.
About 55 percent of customers surveyed said they park in both metered and non-metered parking spaces while 25 percent said they park in on-street, metered parking spots and about 16 percent said they park in the free, surface lots.
Representatives from Kimley-Horn also presented three possible pricing scenarios for the downtown parking system that included parking permits for both the parking garage and the off-street lots which would all become paid-parking except for the water tower lot.
All three scenarios show parking in the second and third levels of the garage being set at $.25 cents an hour with the first level being $.75 an hour. Off-street parking lots would become $.75 cents an hour and metered parking remains the same at $1.25 an hour. The main difference in the three scenarios is the cost of parking permits that range from $11 a month to $50 a month, depending on each option and the location of the parking spot.
The commissioners did not vote on any of the presented options and instead, agreed to schedule a work session in the next couple of weeks to review the information provided by Kimley-Horn and discuss the future revenue model for the parking system.
Construction continues on the parking garage that is expected to be completed in the fall.
Click here to watch a live webcam of the downtown parking garage construction.