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Foote said she was told that as a Minneapolis business, she can’t use the employee permit parking privileges in the ramps.
“I’ve been parking on the street for many years and … I have never sent a customer to that ramp,” she said. “I wish there was something over here on our side. … We just concentrate on our small store and try not to get into that political battle.”
Improvements ‘not sexy’
The three Edina ramps are 15 to 45 years old and have 951 parking spaces, 420 of them for businesses employees. Under the ramp improvement plan, employee permits for parking would increase from $60 a year to at least $120 a year.
Neuendorf said the city also wants to add bike parking and is working with Metro Transit to improve bus stops with more seating and signage.
“If we can get even 1 percent of employees to ride the bus to work, that’s a whole lot of money we don’t have to spend on parking ramps,” he said.
Ramp improvements include fixing broken pipes, painting, replacing lighting and improving maintenance and cleaning. A new elevator and stairs would be added to the South Ramp.
“These are not sexy or glamorous; they’re what customers expect and demand in a highly competitive market,” Neuendorf said. “We don’t want to turn away people even before they get there.”
About half a million dollars would go for sidewalk improvements, including replacing decaying pavers and dying trees and putting irrigation systems in garden beds.
The issue over paying for ramp improvements would be less heated if the ramps had paid parking. Neuendorf said it is very clear that business owners oppose that.
“They were fiercely united that parking must be free,” he said.
Thelemann, of the 50th & France Business Association, agrees.
“All of our competitors have free parking — the West End, North Loop, Southdale, Galleria,” she said.
Neuendorf said that if the plan is approved by the City Council, the ramps would be fixed up, signs added and the effect on parking gauged.
If the situation doesn’t improve, he expects the city to eventually build a new ramp.
A 2011 consultant’s report suggested adding 140 to 220 parking stalls in the area. While the city recently gave up its attempt to condemn a dry cleaning business to expand parking, it bought the now-vacant Edina Realty Building at 3939 49½ St. with the intention of adding a parking ramp if needed.
“There is a cost to do that, and it can be extremely high,” Neuendorf said. “Let’s finish these basic improvements this year and come back to expansion later.”