Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Parking,The Perennial Dilemma

Sorting papers tonight, I came across a resolution to hire Walker Parking Consultants to conduct a parking structure feasibitility study for downtown Plainfield. The cost was $60,750 and the time frame was one year. It was passed in February, so it's at about the halfway mark now.

Among the many considerations - location, capacity, construction cost - perhaps the most important is who will pay for it. The city could issue a bond or developers might be asked to pay.

Mirons warehouse before
 So far, the only major downtown developer is Landmark, which converted the old Mirons warehouse into 12 apartments with a ground-floor restaurant still under construction. That structure is on East Second Street and the west side of Gavett Place.

Mirons warehouse after 

On the east side, Landmark is completing a building with commercial space on the ground floor and 20 apartments on upper floors.

Landmark also developed two nearby Park Avenue buildings, one with 4 apartments over office space and another with eight apartments and commercial space at ground level. In the former Telephone Building on East Fourth Street has eight apartments. There are three mixed-use Landmark buildings on North Avenue and plans for retail use in the PNC Bank building at Park and West Front Street as well.

So it appears that Landmark developer Frank Cretella would especially benefit from a downtown parking facility.

He has approvals for 148 apartments and 12,300 square feet of retail space on West Second Street, but as I recall those plans include ground parking.

Landmark's early plans (circa 2006) called for high-rise construction behind the historic buildings on North Avenue, but the concept was dropped.

The downtown currently has parking in Lot 6, behind Bill's Luncheonette, in Lots 8 and 8A between Somerset Street and Watchung Avenue and in Lot 1 behind the former Strand Theater with an entrance off Watchung Avenue. As far as I know, plans to use the Union County Improvement Authority's parking deck off West Second Street have never materialized, though it was one of the promises made in 2013 when UCIA Director Dan Sullivan presented a $1.09 million check to city officials in settlement of disputed development costs.

It will be interesting to see how current parking permit holders fare if Lot 6 is chosen as the site for a new parking deck. It is very popular. Where will drivers park during construction?

Maybe more people will join me in getting around on foot.and boost the city's walkability score!


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