Parking Downtown Is Rising Again
Ritsema said the city has 114 more monthly parkers this month than it had last July. The latest count of 5,972 monthly parkers is 204 more than the system had in October 2002.
Ritsema also noted that in September another 240 parkers would be renting spaces in the new Monroe Center ramp when Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western Michigan moves into the former Steketee’s building on Monroe Center. Expectations are that Blue Cross will begin moving into its new headquarters around Labor Day.
“In September, it will be full,” said Ritsema of the 544-space ramp that only opened last September at the corner of Ottawa and Louis NW.
Ritsema told parking commissioners that her department tries to maintain an inventory of 400 available monthly spaces in the downtown system. She said more than that number was excessive, as it is now with 562 spaces available. When Blue Cross moves into Steketee’s, that inventory will fall below 400 to roughly 320 spaces.
In other news, Parking Services will close the Monroe Center lot and lose the remaining 71 spaces there at the end of this month. The new art museum is going up on that site.
And there is a chance that the city will lose the spaces that are left in the DASH 8 lot to the new YMCA facility being built on that site. The YMCA has a right of first refusal to purchase the rest of the Scribner NW lot from the Downtown Development Authority. Parking Services still has 125 spaces there that it uses for the shuttle service. DDA Executive Director Jay Fowler said the Y has expressed an interest in buying that portion of the lot and will be talking with the DDA about selling it.
“I’m not inclined to sell it unless there is a good business reason to do that,” said Fowler.
Ritsema said she would rather that it not be sold, but added that the new DASH 9 lot on Seward NW just north of Lake Michigan Drive should be finished in a few weeks. The lot will become part of the DASH West system and add 350 spaces to it.
“We do expect most of the spaces in DASH 9 will be sold when it opens,” said Ritsema.
Grand Rapids Community College is expected to rent most of those spaces as part of a shuttle service the school will provide for its students.
Parking Commissioner Lisa Haynes, who directs downtown operations for Grand Valley State University, said the school’s new 950-space parking ramp on Lake Michigan Drive would open in August, in time for the new semester. GVSU students will be shuttled from the ramp to the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences on Michigan Street.
Ritsema said she received two proposals for a parking study that the East Fulton Business Association requested earlier this year. The lowest bid was $24,000, almost three times what Ritsema felt it should cost. She said the department only has $10,000 in the fiscal year budget for parking studies, but would continue to work on getting a study done for the district.