Monthly Parking Prices May Rise

May 19, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Although parking commissioners didn't hike the prices for daily and event parking at city-owned lots and ramps, they did agree to an across-the-board bump of 3 percent to the monthly charge.

"We held visitor and event parking at the same levels and that's not inconsistent with the past," said Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema.

Ritsema added that roughly 1 million parkers pay the event rate each year to attend trade shows at

DeVos Place
, musical shows in the Performance Hall, and concerts and games at Van Andel Arena.

"We're slightly less than the private competition locally," said Ritsema.

Parking Services based the monthly increases on the Consumer Price Index, which stood at 2.79 percent in April when the new rates were first presented to commissioners. With the higher rates, city parking charges downtown will range from a low of $23.50 a month at two DASH lots, a price that includes a shuttle ride to and from the office, to a high of $135.75 at three ramps.

According to Colliers International, which compares monthly parking prices in central business districts across North America, only a handful of U.S. cities have lower high-end rates than Grand Rapids, and none offer rates lower than those at the DASH lots.

Colliers International said the 2005 monthly median parking charge for an unreserved space in the 58 markets it surveyed was $148, a higher rate than any of the city's monthly charges.

"We're below market rates," said Parking Commission Chairman Jack Hoffman.

The monthly hikes are expected to add $165,878 to the coffers of the Convention and Arena Authority, the city, the Downtown Development Authority and Parking Services over the next fiscal year, as all four receive parking revenue from the downtown facilities.

As of mid-April, Parking Services had 583 monthly parking cards available at seven of the 20 facilities in the downtown system, which offers a total of 6,699 monthly spaces. But two of the more popular lots may go away within the next few years.

Area 4 and 5, located just south of the arena, are both up for sale. The DDA is talking about selling one to a southeast Michigan developer that wants to put retail and a multi-screen theater on the site, while the other is being marketed by the city through an RFP process. The lots have a combined 565 monthly spaces and all are booked — for good reason.

The monthly rate at both lots the past year has been $44, a bargain for that section of downtown. But if both are sold for developments and if ramps go up on the sites, monthly rates are likely to top $100. That's because it costs at least four times more to build a space in a ramp than on a surface lot, and Parking Services will have to ratchet up the charge to meet its debt obligations from construction.

Parking Commissioner Dan Barcheski said he didn't believe that a theater would succeed on the Area 4 lot, calling the project "not viable," and he was concerned that Parking Services would end up with an expensive ramp sitting above a closed movie house.

"While it's DDA property, it's our money that is going to the project," said Barcheski, CEO of Axios Inc. "I can see us subsidizing this project."

Ritsema told commissioners that the DDA was looking out for the department's interests while the board negotiates exclusively with Gershenson Realty & Investment for the lot. The developer has offered $3 million for the site, which is about $35 per square foot.     

Downtown Monthly Parking Rates

Here is a listing of the current monthly parking rates, the charges proposed for the next fiscal year, the monthly increase and the annual increase.

Should city commissioners agree with the increases next month, the new rates will go into effect July 1.

City Facility   FY06 Rate       FY07 Rate        Monthly Increase Yearly 
Increase
Area 1, 2 & 3 $60.50 $62.25 $1.75 $21.00
Area 4 & 5 $44.00 $45.25 $1.25 $15.00
DASH South (Area 6) $22.75 $23.50 $0.75 $9.00
DASH South (Area 6a) $33.00 $34.00 $1.00 $12.00
DASH West $22.75 $23.50 $0.75 $9.00
DeVos Place $132.00 $135.75 $3.75 $45.00
Government Center $132.00 $135.75 $3.75 $45.00
Ionia North $38.00 $39.00 $1.00 $12.00
Louis Campau $120.50 $123.75 $3.25 $39.00
Monroe Center $120.50 $123.75 $3.25 $39.00
Monroe North $38.00 $39.00 $1.00 $12.00
Monroe Place $109.50 $112.50 $3.00 $36.00
Pearl Ionia $132.00 $135.75 $3.75 $45.00
OttawaFulton $113.25 $116.50 $3.25 $39.00
Scribner Lot $38.00 $39.00 $1.00 $12.00

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