Apocalyptic parking

There’s plenty to say about Parkview Hospital’s expansion up north and contraction on State Boulevard, but first, I wanted to address another angle of the proposed Shoppes on Broadway (sits plan shown above).

Why do all new retail developments look like suburban strip malls? Why is the parking lot almost twice as large as the footprint of the building?

A major reason is that every 180 square feet of retail space built in Fort Wayne requires its own parking space.

So the Phase I building at the top with 6,050 sq.ft. of space requires 34 parking spaces. And the Phase II building at the bottom with 10,200 sq.ft. of space requires 57 parking spaces.

The law doesn’t care what kind of stores are in the building. The stores could be low traffic or high traffic. There could be on-street parking, nearby garages or an abundance of pedestrian traffic. You still need a parking space for every 180 square feet of store.

But how often do you see a parking lot so full that you cannot find a space? Maybe, just maybe, the lot fills up on the day after Thanksgiving. But for the rest of the year, the lots are seldom more than half full. It’s parking built for the apocalypse and not for normal day-to-day shopping.

Not only are these hugs empty parking lots expensive, they separate stores from each other, making walking or biking unpleasant and sometimes dangerous.

We shouldn’t seek laws that force developers to create retails centers that shoppers would avoid. Instead, we should seek to loosen the existing, overly strict mid-20th-century zoning laws that are slowly dismantling our urban fabric by forcing suburban parking on inner-city blocks. The Shoppes on Broadway development is a great example of why the city of Fort Wayne should not just ease the rules for downtown development, but also expand such freedoms to other center-city neighborhoods. Downtown isn’t the only part of town that needs help.

City may allow downtown to look like downtown

This is great news: Revamp of zoning in works — City wants to ease the rules for downtown development

The city hopes to rezone much of the downtown into this district, or a slightly less dense variation, and away from other commercial and industrial zoning.

The rules are more conducive to a downtown, (city planner Sherese Fortriede) said, because they ease parking restrictions and allow for multiple uses. They also allow buildings to be closer to the street, creating more of a dense urban feel. But the rules aren’t perfect, which is why the city also plans to take a closer look at its zoning laws. For example, Fortriede said the city probably shouldn’t allow anyone to just build more surface parking lots downtown when there is already ample parking.