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by Jon Behm · Published · Updated
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PROPOSED PARKING LOT CREATES OPPORTUNITY
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY) February 17, 1999 Much of the recent discussion regarding the parking lot lease arrangement between the city of Cheyenne and the Wyoming Transportation Museum and Learning Center (WTMLC) has suffered from incomplete information. The original intention was to locate the lowest cost alternative for needed lower downtown parking. The proposal reflects the foresight of city officials to invest in the infrastructure of one of Cheyenne’s most valuable but underutilized assets — its historic downtown. Indeed, the proposed lease arrangement is a relatively low-cost, timely solution to the real (not merely perceived) parking shortage that persistently plagues the downtown’s business recruitment and retention efforts.
Known demand In any effort to redevelop and recruit new businesses to lower downtown, one of the first questions a potential tenant asks is “Where will we park?” According to the 1991 Downtown Cheyenne Parking DevelopmentPlan, properties within a two block walking distance of the proposed parking lot require approximately 675 parking spaces. (Parking demand figures were calculated based on building use on an average day.) The 1991 plan projected these properties can themselves access only about 590 spaces — thus resulting in a parking deficit of 85 spaces within this area. Notably, these figures did not include the potential redevelopment of the Hynds Building, the former Western Ranchman Outfitters building, the Plains Hotel, the Albany Hotel, the WTMLC, or many of the 15th Street storefronts. The parking plan (including the redevelopment of the Hynds building, as well as an annual 2 percent increase in employment) would increase the parking demand in lower downtown by an additional 273 spaces by 1995 — increasing the total deficiency to 358 parking spaces. While some believe the space west of the WTMLC is presently available for public parking, it is not. That land is private property held by the WTMLC and is not suitably surfaced or lighted for regular parking use — nor is the WTMLC equipped to manage and operate that lot for parking. site best parking nyc
At present, the closest available parking is the City Center Parking Lot, located between Carey and Pioneer Avenues and Lincolnway and 17th Street. The city center lot provides 179 spaces. The city parking division has already oversold the available spaces by 30 percent. Those seeking to lease a space in the lower downtown lots are put on a waiting list. According to the 1995 Cheyenne City Center Parking Structure Report, parking within a one block area of the existing city center lot is deficient by 766 spaces, thus, affirming the earlier, 1991 conclusion that lower downtown greatly lacks adequate parking. go to website best parking nyc
Impact on revitalization efforts Additional parking is critical to the further development of properties within lower downtown. The newly renovated Becker Hotel, located on 15th Street, will soon become home to the Wyoming Business Council, which has requested 30 permits for the proposed lot. Moreover, properties such as the former Western Ranchman Outfitters building — currently housing Wyoming Home — the Paramount Building, and the Plains Hotel could be renovated to house offices or residential units in upper floors. Finally, there are numerous additional properties on 15th and 16th Streets that hold tremendous redevelopment potential.
In order to capitalize on redevelopment opportunities and realize its significant potential contribution to economic development, the lower downtown must be provided additional parking.
An investment in infrastructure Most important, this lease arrangement is not an “expensive gift” to the WTMLC. Rather, it represents an investment in infrastructure. Parking is as essential a requirement for any business (or residential) district as is water, sewer or electricity. Over the last year, the city and the DDA have taken affirmative steps to manage the downtown parking situation. These steps included raising parking fines to increase turnover of on-street spaces and passing a resolution to convert certain existing parallel parking to diagonal parking. Nevertheless, all day parking, in particular, remains highly inadequate. By implementing the diagonal parking resolution, downtown gains 70 parking spaces. These spaces are located on Capitol Avenue from 17th Street to 24th Street — well north of the proposed lot — and are intended to serve downtown visitors, not employees or other long-term parkers.
While the $400,000 estimate for improvements (i.e. paving, striping, and lighting) on the proposed lot may seem substantial, it is inexpensive relative to the $6-7 million cost associated with a multi-story parking structure, and, in today’s financial climate, is a more feasible alternative to address immediate needs. Accordingly, the lease arrangement is uniquely suited to meet the city’s obligation to provide the needed parking and, at the same time, provide a collateral benefit to the WTMLC.
The 7-2 Cheyenne City Council vote in favor of the lease and proposed parking lot speaks favorably of the governing body’s ability to see the “bigger picture.” Downtown represents the heart, history, and identity of our community. Without an economically viable core, our community loses its sense of place and identity. We invite decay and deny ourselves the economic and social benefits of a healthy city center. It is our responsibility to preserve and enhance the value of downtown Cheyenne. This project is one step towards meeting that responsibility. Rather than criticize those councilmembers who support this project, the DDA commends them for their courage, their vision and their efforts on behalf of this important part of our city.
LYNNE BOOMGAARDEN is chairman of the Downtown Development Authority.