Study: Downtown parking supply nearing largest deficit in years

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According to city redevelopment leaders, two proposed buildings would ease parking problems

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – As two big downtown developments go through the approval process, the city’s Community Development department is sharing research on parking supply downtown. Redevelopment leaders say it shows the proposed buildings are needed to alleviate parking problems.

Presented by Redevelopment Manager Joe Giant, the information was shared with the Capital Improvement Board and Redevelopment Commission. During the presentations, the groups were officially introduced to the Lofts at Headwaters Park and Riverfront at Promenade Park projects, each of which include parking garages. Both projects have been planned by Indianapolis developers Barrett and Stokely. The developers also took over management of Cityscape Flats last year.

The plan for Riverfront at Promenade Park (also known as Premier) includes a 913 space garage while the Lofts at Headwaters Park includes 651 parking spots. The totals include both private and public spaces.

Riverfront would replace an open gravel lot many people use on a daily basis to visit Promenade Park and nearby corrections building, despite it not being an official lot. The construction of the building would eliminate that space, but eventually add hundreds of more spaces when it opens in mid 2021.

Construction on the garage at Headwaters is expected to be completed at the start of 2022. That mixed use development could be ready for tenants in 2023. Extensive site prep is needed before construction can begin.

Breaking down the research

According to the study, the demand for downtown parking spots has been higher than the amount of available spaces since the start of 2019 and will continue to be the case until the end of 2021. Anticipated demand does not level off until the end of 2022. The highest deficit is expected later this year as commercial tenants move into the Landing and the new boutique hotel opens.

A graph presented to the Capital Improvement Board and Redevelopment Commission shows the results of a study tracking downtown parking demand and supply.

According to the Community Development research, the amount of available spaces has been dropping since early 2019. Hundreds of spaces are expected to open up as construction on the parking garages in the Ashberry and Riverfront buildings is completed in 2021. Demolition has cleared the land for the Ashberry building between Main and Berry Streets, but a development agreement is needed for new construction. The Riverfront project is still going through the approval process.

A spike in supply would be expected to follow if Lofts at Headwaters is approved and a talked-about garage neighboring Parkview Field is approved.

Not pointed out on the graph, the Civic Center Parking Garage. Construction continues on that downtown structure, which would add 225 parking spots. Spaces have been limited in the garage since the expansion work began.

Understanding the research process

Knowing Redevelopment leaders support the projects and are sharing a study showing the buildings are needed to meet parking demand, WANE 15 asked about the method behind the research.

“Parking demand is hard to predict and model because it varies by the time of day, week and year,” Community Development Spokesperson Mary Tyndall said. “There are industry standards that can be used to estimate how much parking a particular establishment will need.”

Following those standards, the parking supply and demand was found by looking “at the type and amount of square footage and multiplied by the appropriate ratio,” Tyndall explained.

  • Residential: 1.5 spaces per dwelling unit
  • Restaurants: 1 space per 250 square foot of floor area
  • Commercial: 1 space per 400 square feet of floor area
  • Hotel: 0.75 spaces per room

Tyndall cautioned that the estimated parking supply information “can change based on many factors, but is the best estimate of current trends.”

Giving the green light for parking construction

While Lofts at Headwaters and Riverfront at Promenade Park have been proposed and announced by Mayor Tom Henry last fall, more approvals are needed before the buildings rise.

The Redevelopment Commission approved four measures for each project last week, with ‘no’ votes coming from Councilman Jason Arp. Despite the passage, two measures of each project need additional approval.

Here’s how those measures break down:

Riverfront at Promenade Park (* notes extra approval needed)

  • Economic development agreement
  • Parking structure lease*
  • Tax increment and parking revenue pledge
  • Amendment to TIF district*

Lofts at Headwaters Park (* notes extra approval needed)

  • Economic development agreement
  • Parking structure lease*
  • Tax increment and parking revenue pledge
  • Remediation and indemnification agreement*

Fort Wayne City Council is expected to discuss the additional measures needing approval in March. The TIF district change has been approved by the city Plan Commission but will also need to pass through Council and a Redevelopment Commission Public Hearing.

Where to park

The need for help to find parking has made it to Visit Fort Wayne’s FAQs list. The group’s website links to a map from Downtown Improvement District with a comprehensive list of parking garage and lot locations, when the spaces are open and how much it costs to park there.

ABM Parking Services offers a free app that shows information about Civic Center Parking Garage and the surface lot at the northeast corner of Clinton and Superior Streets. The app also tracks the availability of downtown parking meters.

Unless a bag or sign shows the space is unavailable, the spot is open 24 hours day. Metered spots are free after 5:00 p.m.

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