Study paints picture of downtown’s future parking needs - North Atlanta Business Post
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Updated Nov 14 @ 1:05PM

Study paints picture of downtown’s future parking needs

Alpharetta explores ideas to handle expected volume


ALPHARETTA, Ga. – With close to $8 million already committed to add parking in downtown, Alpharetta city leaders took time recently to study whether the city is keeping up with future demand.

A new study released last week shows Downtown Alpharetta has plenty of parking spaces, but the vast majority of them are in private lots.

The study, conducted by Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, also shows the city has no room for complacency because demand for parking is liable to outgrow supply, particularly in the area of available public parking.

”This is a way to keep a finger on the pulse of downtown parking conditions,” said Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard. “It helps guide us on how to manage our parking inventory.”

Alpharetta is right to be concerned.

While it has two parking decks on the west side of Main Street already in the planning stages, there are a slew of commercial and office projects underway as well. And those projects promise to draw more vehicles to downtown.

Both new parking decks carry a combined cost of $8 million and will add 345 stalls to the current 908 public parking spaces – on and off-street – currently available in downtown.

At the same time, though, the Downtown District is in the midst of a commercial, residential and office boom. Among the projects underway or planned:

• City Center — with 70,000 square feet of restaurant and retail, a four-story office building with three floors of office over retail and 168 apartment units atop commercial shops — is scheduled to open in late 2018.

• Liberty Hall — a four-story building with an upscale restaurant and cigar shop on the first floor, well-appointed office suites covering 12,000 square feet of space on the middle two floors and a private social club on the top floor.

• Downtown Main — a mix of retail, office, restaurants and residential on 12.9 acres at the corner of Main Street and Devore Road.

That’s a lot of cars, city officials concede.

Nelson/Nygaard said as much in its study, predicting that the city’s current parking garage across from City Hall and the library will get increased use, as will the on-street parking – about 90 spaces – once City Center is opened.

The study shows that downtown currently has 3,517 parking spaces, but fully two-thirds of those, 2,609, are on private lots, such as churches and businesses. Of the 908 public parking spaces available in downtown, 445 are within the existing parking deck. The rest are either on-street spaces or in off-street lots.

Data from the study shows a lot of fill in the public lots during peak hours, Drinkard said. At the same time, the study shows a lot of vacancy in private lots.

“They’re not carrying the load they could carry,” Drinkard said. “Some of them we may be able to work out agreements with. Some of them, we may not. Clearly the existing public parking structure is getting pulled very heavily.”

It will be up to the city to pursue possible agreements with some of the private lot owners, said Alpharetta City Councilman Mike Kennedy, who serves as liaison to Community Development.

“He may come back to us later with some ideas about how we could partner up with some of these private lots, the churches or Publix or some of these office complexes,” Kennedy said. “I think that may be the direction he goes, is encouraging some public-private partnerships.”

At the same time, he added, he wants to see how the city can best utilize the public spaces it has, whether with time limits or with metered stalls. Right now, less than 10 percent of downtown public parking has time limits.

Kennedy stressed the report is preliminary, and he hopes to have a better handle on the future needs for downtown parking in the coming months.

“The reason the staff brought it into work was just to brainstorm any and all ideas, public and private,” he said.

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