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Anticipating that the soon-to-open Green Line light rail will bring massive development, one community is planning ahead. Prospect Park, a southeast Minneapolis area peppered with surface parking lots, is coalescing around the idea of a shared commercial parking ramp so outside visitors to future businesses have a place to park.
“You really can’t attract the development you’re after — the grocery store, the shops — without a parking plan,” said Dick Gilyard, president of Prospect Park 2020, an offshoot of the neighborhood group. “So in order to get desired development, instead of just haphazard development, parking is fundamental to that.”
The idea would require upfront public or private investment, with the expectation that businesses would pay the facility off over time through rent.
Public parking is also an issue on Lake Street, where Lake Street Council executive director Joyce Wisdom said businesses are sometimes wary to occupy space if only on-street parking is available. And then there are quagmires such as the Lake Street-Minnehaha Avenue intersection, where massive surface parking lots restricted to Target and Rainbow customers don’t benefit nearby restaurants.
“We think it’s a good thing to relax the minimums,” she said. “But we also want folks at [the city] to know that parking is a challenge.”
The Whittier neighborhood took steps to limit the proliferation of surface parking lots, saying they are a blight to the streetscape and a poor use of land. But given that customers continue to drive, it supports more partnerships to help create shared commercial parking structures, which also takes pressure off on-street spots.
“The people who live in the neighborhood have to have the security of being able to park their cars someplace and not be pushed out by the visitors, an event or whatever,” said Marian Biehn of the Whittier Alliance.
Still other solutions may be on the horizon. City parking officials are exploring the idea of using data from parking meters to help people find open spots in real-time, likely through smartphone apps.
And Tom Fisher, dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Design, has advocated building ramps that can be easily repurposed in case parking demand drops off — by avoiding sloped floors, for example.
“As the city becomes more dense, we have to realize that with it comes urban attitudes,” said developer Don Gerberding, of Master Engineering. “And density is not a negative.”
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732