Local News

Call for Rules to Disguise Downtown Parking Decks

Posted April 9, 2008

— Parking garages are downtown eyesores that need to be addressed as the area grows, according to a recent report by the city's Appearance Commission.

"When you just allow the parking decks to start at the ground and go five to six stories up, you really do create a void in your city's fabric," commission member Ted Van Dyke said.

The report was part of a process to adopt interim rules to guide downtown development until the city can put together and implement a comprehensive plan next year. A public hearing on the interim guidelines is scheduled for next Tuesday.

"Our concern was that downtown was developing so rapidly that there were important policies we had to put in place," Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver said.

The proposal calls for better design of parking garages to screen them from public view, suggesting building underground parking or wrapping above-ground decks with retail shops or offices to disguise them. Entrances and exits to the garages should be limited in number and placed on side streets, the proposal said.

"We are trying to make sure these large projects really contribute to the quality of the city," Van Dyke said.

Silver said the changes would make downtown streets more pedestrian-friendly.

"It's a policy that we would encourage parking to go underground, buildings around the parking deck and ... more activity such as retail," he said.

Developer Andrew Stewart said big changes could mean costly upgrades.

"The danger is, we have a lot of momentum going downtown," said Stewart, president of Empire Properties. "To the extent that we're going to put in regulations that trump economics of a project, that's when we get into danger for downtown. That would be my concern."

Other concerns pointed out in the report include the need for more street-level retail and more attractive sidewalks and landscaping.

Silver said the interim rules could be in place by late May or early June.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • An Alternative Apr 10, 2008

    If parking decks are such a large problem with their 'appearances', then maybe public transportation incentives should be explored. If you reduce the number of cars in the city, then you reduce the number of parking decks. The gas crunch is affecting all of us, but I don't yet see Southern states doing enough to take the burden off of the regular taxpayer. Remember now: on each gallon of gas, there is included in the price a federal gas tax, and a state gas tax. The North Carolina state gas tax is among one of the highest in America. Just food for thought next time you elect the same people into state legislature.

  • nofear Apr 10, 2008

    I hate going downtown it is hard to fine parking that is free and easy to get to. Parking should be free anywhere after 6pm downtown. To attract more people to hangout in the downtown area, we did easy and free access.

  • discowhale Apr 10, 2008

    I have no problem with pay as you go, I prefer it. What I don't want to pay for is parking decks that look pretty.

    I'm glad about your health, and a little jealous. I've been disabled for 15 years and I'm just 2 years older than you.

  • colliedave Apr 10, 2008

    Just put the local grafitti "artists" to work. Just looking for ways to waste the taxpayers money. ITS A PARKING DECK!

  • Rolling Along Apr 10, 2008

    Live where you want but be prepared to pay the price. FWIW I am 51 years old and can still run a mile in about 6 minutes. I own a truck...it gets driven less than 5,000 miles a year. There are PLENTY of alternatives to automotive use. All I am is saying is make the people that use it pay for it. Actually the concept of putting retail space on the lower level is an excellent idea and should be explored further. People make their own choices and have to live with them.

  • nisa-pizza Apr 10, 2008

    Rolling along,

    That's a pretty narrow view you have. Suppose, just suppose those folks you speak of live miles away from work. And just suppose those people have jobs where they have to haul things as part of their jobs like supplies or files.

    My sister has a job downtown Raleigh and her church is also downtown where she sets up a homeless ministry and feeds people on the weekends and does her errands to get the food and supplies during her lunch hour. By the way she lives in Cary.

    What's the solution for her? I can count on one hand people who actually live in walking distance of their jobs in my building and I work downtown too. Most live Johnston, Wayne, Franklin, Orange and other counties. There are plenty of others that do similar things like that. This article was about the parking decks and their appearance. People need their cars and can't alway carpool or take the bus.

    Your response is way off base.

  • NCAries Apr 10, 2008

    I can think of many other infrastructural needs that could benefit much more from that money that will be spent on this. Our schools/teachers, the roads that bring you to and take you from Raleigh, OUR WATER SUPPLY!!!!

    The appearance of a parking deck really does not make that much difference to me one way or the other. It's a parking deck.

    Well said.

  • NCAries Apr 10, 2008

    I don't get the part of the article about costly upgrades. Hire a local "starving artist" type to paint a mural on the side. Supplies and labor that's what, a couple hundred dollars? Many folks I know have already said they wish downtown had more public art & murals....this is a win-win solution.

    I thought the same thing.

  • discowhale Apr 10, 2008

    uh, Rolling,
    that's great for you if that's YOUR choice. However, there are those of us who make enough money to decide to drive or 5000# vehicles wherever or whenever WE we make a choice. Further, there are those of us, who are disabled and can't walk across downtown. The answer to this stupid study and it's equally stupid conclusions, is NOT to take the drivers to task over their driving habits. If everyone who works downtown, or even 50% of them, took the bus or walked from Garner and Wake Forest, it wouldn't change the look of the parking decks.

    BTW, those people who walk everywhere, generally live in countries where there aren't as many cars, roads, PARKING DECKS, etc. And that's not something I saw on NatGeo, I've been all over the world, and I've seen it myself, first hand. Not to mention that in those countries they don't live 5 or 10 or 20 miles from where they work.

    How far do YOU drive to work? What's the parking like? Is it free? Is it a deck or a lot? Hmmm?

  • Tripwire Apr 10, 2008

    Rolling along ... Ok I get it I'm supposed to walk to downtown from Fuquay or Garner or where ever? You are assuming that just because someone is in a car alone that somehow they are lazy or obese. I don't mind walking and I'm probably in better shape than you I'm still playing hockey at 55, But I still have to park my car before I can get out and walk anywhere. I believe the original discussion was about parking deck and not how many people may or may not be in a car when they park. If they want downtown to be utilized by people other than those who live downtown then providing adequate parking is parmount.