Frustrations growing over Grand Rapids downtown parking

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - As the downtown area continues to see redevelopment and growth, many wonder how this will impact ongoing parking challenges across the city.

"If you make it more expensive, people will pay it, because they don't have an option and they want to go downtown," David Kelly said. But he and his partner have had enough of that concept. 

The two opened up a business downtown and after a year and a half they had to move it out.

MORE: Rate hikes, shuttles: the future of Grand Rapids parking

"Unfortunately, the parking doubled its rate and we were spending as much in parking per month as we were spending in rent for this space," Kelly said, as he looked at his new business space five minutes east of downtown.  

"It doesn't seem to be conducive to fostering growth downtown. We'd love to be downtown, we have Grand Valley right there we can pull interns for new employees. We're looking to hire 30 in the next 3 years if we get approved by the state for a million dollars and that would have been thousands of dollars like $15,000 a month just for parking for employees to be downtown."

It's frustrations city parking manager Josh Naramore says he hears.

"The city's approach is sort of managing it from two different sides which is to manage the demand and provide more options for people," Naramore said. "Providing more options means, how can we build and construct new parking ramps, like there's one behind the Van Andel arena, that's scheduled to be constructed more than double parking that area of town.

"But also looking at remote surface lots and utilizing our transit service to shuttle people into downtown."

That's a concept Kelly does not believe is realistic, but it is a concept the city says they hope many embrace as they catch up with demand.

"The city's been really trying to proactively look at data analysis in order to better see if we can maximize any extra inch of capacity to be able to provide as much parking for the people who need it," Naramore added.

City officials say they are still actively planning to build more structure parking. He says it just takes time and a lot of money.

For the time being, they're looking to provide more surface parking for a couple of years as they bridge the gap.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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