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Downtown Durham faces parking squeeze

Posted April 20, 2015

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— New businesses moving into downtown Durham face a serious parking challenge. As the city continues to grow, developers have to find a way to include parking in limited space.

The former Liggett & Myers Tobacco factory, for example, is being converted into 300,000 square feet of office and laboratory space, but doesn't have nearly enough parking to accommodate future tenants.

"It has limited on-site parking," said Mark Ahrendsen, Durham's transportation director. "To meet the parking demands of future tenants of that facility, they have to look off-site."

"It gets even more challenging when you are in these geographically constrained areas," said Geoff Durham, president of Downtown Durham Inc. "With all the new office projects that are interested in locating in downtown, that's going to be a growing concern."

The city's parking study suggests converting some surface parking lots into multi-story parking decks. Durham said the placement of any new decks would be key – successful spots would cater to both workers during the day and to people going out on nights and weekends.

Private developers and the city also could form partnerships to create enough parking for individual projects, according to the parking study.

"It's going to take a good partnership between the public and private sectors to look at how you can strategically address growth in downtown," Durham said.

Ahrendsen said the city is aware of the parking troubles and is working to solve them, such as leasing spaces to the 21c Museum Hotel that opened recently on Corcoran Street.

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