I recently read this article on The Roswell Neighbor discussing the availability of parking on Canton Street and potential solutions to the issue. I know this is a hot topic for many especially since the restaurant scene has exploded here over the past ~5 years. I think the common complaint is that it takes too long to park and thus we need more parking. However, let's not over react.
I go to Canton Street (by car) almost weekly to eat and the longest it has ever taken me to park at peak time is about 10 minutes. When I do get a spot, it's usually within 50 yards of the main restaurant area. Anywhere else on Canton is a breeze to park. There are 1,847 parking spots between Magnolia St and Woodstock St and a recent study suggest that the area is 69 spaces short during peak times.
A normal parking space is about 180 sq ft (10x18). So, 69 spaces is 12,420 sq ft. or ~.285 acres. When you add in driving space, that effectively doubles. So, just to meet the current peak demand, Canton St would need to figure out where a half an acre could be paved to park some cars. I'm not so sure that we need to do this given the demand but I wanted to think about what we could do to prepare for added demand if that does come.
Here are my recommendations in order of cost from the least to the most expensive:
- Do nothing - The current situation isn't actually as bad as it seems. There are plenty of spaces within a short walk along Mimosa, at City Hall and across 9 from Diesel. Proper direction and labeling could help. There is also some opportunity for lot reconfiguration and multi-use lots in areas.
- Create a Parking Lot - I don't have any ideas on where to do this since we won't be able to find a half/acre unless we tear down a building or two. If we do that, then we might as well do it right.. see the last two entries.
- Deck Behind Restaurants - Here, we would just build a deck where a current parking area is. See the red shaded area on the map.
- Surface Lot Behind Buildings - This one is actually my favorite as it will do a lot to complete Canton Street and give additional parking. You tear down the old antique store and move a 2-3 story building up to Canton Street and line the north side of Webb Street with either shop fronts or townhomes. Behind the buildings invisible to Canton Street, you would have a surface parking lot that is larger than what is existing. If demand grew, you could eventually build a deck here.
- Deck Behind Townhomes - Here we would line the southern tip of Canton St, the northern side of Magnolia and the southeastern tip of the Webb Street Extension with townhomes or live work units with some retail below. The corner of Canton & Magnolia would be a small office or bank building.
Here's the visual:
Now, let's not forget the age old problem of charging for parking. If the need to charge arises and you have built an expensive deck, the logical course of action would be to charge for the deck and leave the surface parking alone. However, what you really need to do is price the deck lower than the surface parking. This will price the commodity properly by pricing the most sought after commodities (street parking) higher than the less desirable (deck parking). If you fall into the trap of charging for deck parking while not charging for street parking, you will still have congestion which will cause a perceived lack of parking because everyone will try to park on the street for free first and use the deck as a last resort.