The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


Bonus links: Parking extravaganza

Image from ACT.
$80,000 a space for another DC USA?: ACT and the Sierra Club are calling on Montgomery County to scale back the $89 million, 1,100-car garage it plans to build up to seven stories below the current surface lot across from the Barnes and Noble. This will cost $80,000 a space, and assumes a greater percentage of people driving to work than currently, even before the Purple Line stops a block away.

Tenleytown Safeway too suburban: The large, suburban parking lot behind the proposed Tenleytown Safeway was one of the resident objections raised at last month's ANC meeting. Also, while the plan has stores along 42nd Street, they will face the inside of the store. ANC members also suggested adding some housing above and possibly townhouses in the rear. (Цarьchitect)

Three parking bills, one hearing: There's another DC Council hearing December 10th on the parking bills to reserve one side of the street for residents only. This hearing includes the Ward 5 bill not covered previously, in addition to the Ward 1 and Ward 6. I've previously written about it here and here. (JDLand)

Free holiday meters?: Salt Lake City is making all meters free for the holidays, which costs them about $225,000. Spokane's Public Parking and Policy Manager responds to a letter calling for the same there, the noting that most cities simply found the meters filled up all day by employees. (Deseret News, Spokesman-Review)

Free transit for some Chicago shoppers: The transit-accessible Andersonville district in Chicago provides free transit rides to shop there in addition to free parking. Shoppers just have to print out a page from their Chicago Card Plus account (whose website allows users to see their ride history) and send it in with the receipt. (Michael P)

Potomac Yard station still just out of reach: Alexandria is still about $32 million short in public and private money to finance a $240 million new Metro station at Potomac Yard. Even that figure is for a station along the current line, which isn't the ideal location. Planners and officials are still optimistic they can make it happen. (Examiner)

A Green City but without green transportation: Developers hope to rebuild St. Charles, a planned community in Waldorf, to enlarge it and make buildings much more energy efficient. Still, it's 22 miles from DC, an dcan't be a true "Green City" if everyone drives in single cars to central jobs. Scott points out, why not do the same for other older communities in inner Prince George's County? But if you're going to build in Charles County, this is at least a better way to do it. (Post, Scott, Cavan)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


Add a comment »

Have you ever tried to park in that area of Bethesda at night or on a weekend? Even when the meters are in effect, it is an absolute nightmare, there are simply too few spaces. Bravo to MoCo for doing something to improve the area - If we can't get enough people in there to shop/work/play etc., what's the point?

by Local on Nov 30, 2009 2:06 pm • linkreport

that is why I never take a car to Bethesda even if I have a good reason for going there. I take the Metro or bike out along that Capitol Cresent trail.It is a lot easier. Plus- I can carry lodes of stuff on my bicycle if I want to take it back into DC.

Who needs a damn car anyway?

by w on Nov 30, 2009 2:23 pm • linkreport

While a noble gesture, the idea of going online to print out my metro riding history, and then sending it in all on the promise of eventually receiving a $1.35 check is not my idea of a smooth system. I'd be surprised if many people bothered.

by Reid on Nov 30, 2009 3:00 pm • linkreport

@Reid, you got it. But they can market it and I bet that it draws some people who wouldn't normally show up. If Andersonville experiences a 5 percent jump in sales b/c of the promo and of that only 4 percent redeem the transit/parking benefit, then the city not only sells more crap, they also collect more parking revenues.
captcha is 'Chicago,' btw

by JTS on Nov 30, 2009 3:19 pm • linkreport

At least the new portions of St. Charles could have interconnected streets, not cul-de-sacs, and shopping that is accessible by walking from houses. That would be some progress.

by Steve on Nov 30, 2009 3:37 pm • linkreport

The Bethesda Parking District runs a surplus that is used to fund, among other things, the Bethesda 8 Trolley, and road/sidewalk maintenance in the Bethesda CBD (why Bethesda CBD is so much better maintained than Ballston or Rosslyn). Parking spaces can make the County money, if done right. You only have to go to Bethesda Row on a Friday or Saturday evening, even daytime, to see that the parking situation is horrendous. The Betheda-Elm garage is undersized and poorly designed. Ideally, that would have been the major garage placed underground. But a new garage on Lot 31 will rectify the county's past mistakes with adequate parking for Bethesda Row, CCT users, and even Purple Line riders. You could consider this a multi-modal garage becuase of the users it would serve. Bethesda needs this garage in its full form, not some half-assed version like the current Bethesda Row garage.

by Cyrus on Nov 30, 2009 4:05 pm • linkreport

7 stories underground? $80,000 per space? Automated above-ground parking garages, even small inefficient automated parking garages spread throughout the city of Bethesda, are significantly cheaper than that. The time, energy, air filtration, construction expenses, and other costs pile up the deeper you go in a conventional garage. In an automated underground parking garage, all you're looking at is the digging - and you can fit 3x as many cars down there for the same size hole. I think this is a case where the nebulous costs of the robotics are obviously much less than the price of a conventional garage.

Automated parking doesn't suffer from the "Top floor empty" phenomenon noted in the PDF - 1000 spaces means 1000 spaces, not 300 that people are willing to circle around to get to.

Aside from that, $80 million would be enough for a significant chunk of another Metro station. How many cheaper spaces and how much TOD could we plunk down at a Woodmont station, where Woodmont intersects with 355?

by Squalish on Nov 30, 2009 4:13 pm • linkreport

Cyrus, the big kicker to the parking garage is its expense. It is expensive because it is currently planned to be SEVEN STORIES DEEP. That is a huge garage. That is more parking than what's available for both Nationals Park and the Verizon Center.

The extreme depth is what makes the parking so incredibly expensive. While I would be against it, I could see a reasonable plan involving replacing the surface lot with a comparable lot under the new development. No one will go beneath the first, or maybe the second level. I guarantee you that that the lower three levels would never be used. How many women would feel comfortable going that far into the ground into a parking garage? Anecdotally, the ones I brought it up with felt negatively about it.

That's just a lot of money to spend on something that won't be used. We should have learned from the District's mistake in Columbia Heights. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By Einstein's definition, this proposal as it currently exists is insane.

by Cavan on Nov 30, 2009 4:13 pm • linkreport

From the NYT in 2003:
IN Baltimore, Ashbourne Properties is considering Mr. Haag's Robotic Parking system for a proposed three-building apartment complex that has street access only 60 feet wide. ''It is the only way we could provide on-site parking -- and we are happy to have the option,'' said Ashbourne's president, Crispin Etherington.

''The price we have been quoted is $22,000 per space, when conventional parking costs about $15,000 per space. We are studying the economics of our project, and the Baltimore market before deciding which way to go.''

Another developer, David Barry of the Applied Companies in Jersey City, said his company recently decided against automated parking for a 12-story apartment structure going up in that city based on cost, and also the general reluctance of lenders to underwrite ''something so new, and untested.''

Mr. Haag also noted that being on the cutting edge can cause problems for conservative lenders. In his view, the ongoing tests of the structural strength and reliability of the Hoboken garage being done to satisfy the construction bonding company are ''really overdoing it.''

But as developers in many metropolitan areas find themselves scrapping over sites they would have considered unbuildable even a year or two ago, Mr. Denda said, automatic parking garage proposals are increasingly coming into play -- and familiarity with the issues they raise will rise.

The four-level automatic garage in Washington, beneath the Summit Grand Parc, occupies a space measuring 60 by 106 feet -- smaller than many suburban yards. It is 32 feet floor-to-ceiling -- shorter than many power poles.

The Hoboken garage is situated in the middle of a block on a narrow street with metered spaces on both sides and is built on land that required considerable environmental cleanup.
Mr. Haag said that if a ramped garage could even have been built on the Hoboken site -- which is questionable in his view -- it would have provided only 95 spaces, compared with 324, and construction costs would have run close to $30,000 per space, compared with $20,000.

by Squalish on Nov 30, 2009 4:20 pm • linkreport

Even if Bethesda really does need an 1,100-space parking garage, seven stories deep -- is this really the best thing Montgomery County has to spend $80 million on, right now?

by Miriam on Nov 30, 2009 4:26 pm • linkreport

If Bethesda wants to keep growing, eventually it might think about rezoning at least a block into the single-family homes strangling the CBD. Maybe three hundred residents take up the same amount of space as thirty thousand do next door - which is why this insanity is even considered.

Hell, they even have eminent domain if they want to build a public parking garage.

by Squalish on Nov 30, 2009 4:26 pm • linkreport

Cavan writes: How many women would feel comfortable going that far into the ground into a parking garage?

Like a good progressive, he throws the women's liberation under the bus by assuming that they can't fend for themselves.

by MPC on Nov 30, 2009 4:29 pm • linkreport

those people in complexes with garages who do not have any use for the parking should be allowed to place storage containers on the parking spot. There is a big need for storage spaces in DC and the area and this would serve an unmet need .parking lot facilities need to be designed with modular / multiple uses in mind- and should not be thought of in terms as permenant parking only options. Developers and real estate people need to start planning for the real future and not just for the convienience of the more selfish people who are unwilling to walk or to use transit.
Also- the very best parking spots should always go to car or vehicular share, handicapped, elderly residents - or bicycle parking.

by w on Nov 30, 2009 4:31 pm • linkreport

MPC, I hadn't even thought of that at all when I read the proposal. A few (I know, purely anecdotal as I mentioned in my previous comment) women pointed it out. I hadn't seen it. I only mentioned it because that was what was said to me by a few (anecdotal) women.

by Cavan on Nov 30, 2009 4:44 pm • linkreport

I can say with certainty that people thinking this parking won't be used, has never actually been in Bethesda from 5-9PM on any night, or Friday/Saturday. There is no parking.

"Gotcha" reporting really is the bailiwick of people who don't have much to say. "Ooo look, the top row of that parking garage isn't full, so the entire project is worthless". I'd like to know when that photo was taken. By the looks of the naked trees its either early spring or late fall. Since we know its dark at 4:30 then, this photo was most likely taken around noon. Not a very good indicator for the traffic that area gets.

by nookie on Dec 1, 2009 9:12 am • linkreport

I grew up in Iowa City, IA (university town, ~65,000 people when I lived there, 75 cent bus fair, 60 cent/hr parking) and downtown merchants there gave free parking/free bus passes with a certain sized purchase. The pass was the same for both, and they didn't expire, so we sometimes saved ours for later. Even the library gave out bus passes on certain days. The certificate was slightly larger than a business card and fed right into the dollar slot on the bus fare box. I thought it was a great way to encourage transit use, because you actually got more value for your pass if you used it on the bus.

by Beth on Dec 1, 2009 9:32 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

You can use some HTML, like <blockquote>quoting another comment</blockquote>, <i>italics</i>, and <a href="http://url_here">hyperlinks</a>. More here.

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.


Support Us