Sioux Falls council to hear report July 16; ramp, meter fee increases among suggestions
By Jonathan Ellis
Published: July 5, 2007
Downtown Sioux Falls will need about 1,500 new parking spaces during the next 10 years if development trends continue, a study has found.
An inventory of downtown's parking needs is expected to be presented July 16 to the City Council.
The six-month study was completed by Walker Parking Consultants, a national firm specializing in parking studies.
The firm concluded that the city needs to begin planning now for more parking stalls, and it recommends the city consider increasing fees on existing parking ramps and meters.
Monthly lease rates on the city's public lots and ramps vary from $22 a month to $71. Parking meters range from 40 cents an hour to 75 cents.
The numbers are based on several assumptions. First, it assumes the city will tear down the River Ramp and Eighth Street lot. The 500-space lot has been deemed an aesthetic blunder and is tentatively scheduled to be razed.
It also assumes rapid growth in residential and commercial units downtown.
Randy Bartunek, director of the city's public parking facilities, said the study is based on the best available information about proposed and continuing development projects.
Some of those projects might come through, while others could be shelved. Still others that aren't on the list could be developed in the next 10 years.
"There are a lot of variables when you do a 10-year projection," Bartunek said.
Businesses and individuals lease 2,779 parking stalls from the city. The city has just 2,764 spaces, however, meaning it rents more spaces than it has in capacity, Bartunek said.
Jim Dunham, who leads the city's public parking committee, said he wasn't surprised by the study's findings. Nor is he surprised by the recommendation that the city needs to increase fees for parking.
Without fee increases, the public parking department will be running at a deficit. That can't happen because it's an enterprise fund, which means it operates on the revenue it collects rather than with general tax dollars.
In other words, Dunham said, users pay for the system, not taxpayers.
Fee increases would help maintain existing ramps and build reserves to help finance new parking areas, Bartunek said.
New ramps wouldn't be cheap. The study identified seven sites downtown where ramps could be built, or where existing ramps or parking lots could be expanded.
Cost estimates put the projects between $3.1 million and $9.2 million.
The study identifies three sites downtown that rank highest for accommodating future parking spots.
The first area is between Third and Fourth streets and Main and Phillips avenues.
The site is a 132-space parking lot, but a four-level parking garage could be built there for $5.2 million.
The second site is an existing private ramp adjacent to the Wells Fargo Building at Eight Street and Main. The study says the site could be expanded to accommodate an additional 511 spaces at a cost of $9.2 million.
Another potential site calls for removing the Acme Building, which the city owns, and replacing it with an eight-level structure that would accommodate 544 spaces. It would cost $8.7 million.
One thing the study didn't recommend was the creation of one large ramp downtown. Instead, Dunham said, the city is interested in placing smaller ramps in strategic locations of the city where future growth is expected.
"We don't believe it makes sense to build one humongous ramp," Dunham said.