Study suggests strategy for downtown’s future parking needs - North Atlanta Business Post
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Updated Nov 14 @ 1:05PM

Study suggests strategy for downtown’s future parking needs

Alpharetta explores ideas to handle expected volume


Public spaces - 908
• On-street spaces - 191
• Off-street lots - 272
• Off-street garage - 445

Private spaces - 2,609

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – City leaders are studying options to deliver enough parking space in downtown Alpharetta to meet growing needs.

With about a year to go before completion of its massive City Center mixed-use development, Alpharetta is trying to get ahead of what it anticipates will be a busier downtown and a possible scramble for parking. The city has already committed $6.9 million to build a parking garage west of Main Street on Milton Avenue. The four-level structure should provide an additional 263 public spaces to the downtown.

The city already has a public parking deck with 445 spaces near City Hall, but many of those spaces are expected to fill when City Center opens.

With the growth in retail and office development orbiting City Center, officials are preparing for more, weighing plans to optimize and possibly expand the space it already has.

One of the key architects in drawing up that plan presented city officials with an array of options Sept. 18.

Joel Mann, senior associate at Nelson/Nygaard Consulting, said the growth in downtown points to a need to revise the way Alpharetta manages its parking.

“We do have shortages in some places,” Mann said. “They’re not everywhere in downtown. They’re in the most desirable spaces.”

Those spaces, he said, include the street parking along Milton Avenue and the street parking and city lot on Old Roswell Street.

One option calls for revising what are called “payment in lieu of parking” fees. This process requires those businesses or developments to pay the city a fee for every parking spot it is not providing for its tenants or customers. The money collected from those fees would be used to develop other parking facilities in the Downtown District.

Right now, the city requires developments to provide a minimum number of on-site parking spaces depending on the size and scope of the development. However, the city has no formal price set for each parking space deficiency, and it has no such requirement for restaurants.

For other businesses, the price for each parking space deficiency is generally arrived at through negotiations, but a ballpark figure centers around $7,500 per space.

The study recommends adjusting and formalizing this fee to better reflect the cost the city will face to build more parking space. One measure to determine that fee, he said, would be to include construction costs for the new Milton Avenue deck in the formula.

Another option the study proposes is implementing paid parking at selected high-use locations during certain hours of weekdays. Alpharetta currently does not charge for parking at any city-owned lot or along public streets.

“I want to emphasize, you don’t do this for revenue sake, you do this for management, adding discipline to the parking market,” Mann said.

The third and final option presented would have the city expand its use of time limits on parking spaces.

Of the 908 public parking slots currently available in downtown, the city enforces time limits on 78.

Another less-formal avenue Mann suggested would be for businesses to pursue their own arrangements for parking in private lots.

The two churches in the downtown – First United Methodist and First Baptist – have a combined 800 spaces to accommodate their clientele.

The City Council said it will study the recommendations and poll stakeholders on the options.

Councilman Chris Owens said the idea of paid parking is nothing new and was discussed several years ago when the city first instituted time limits on some spaces.

“I know our staff made business owners aware that this was on the agenda,” he said.

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