Downtown parking revenues show spike

January 24, 2011
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Gross revenue to Parking Services from its ramps and lots rose by 8.2 percent for the first half of the fiscal year when compared to the same period a year ago. The income grew from $4.49 million in fiscal year 2010 to $4.86 million in FY11.

But Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema, also the managing director of the city’s enterprise services department, quickly pointed out that making the comparison was a bit deceptive.

The FY11 gross revenue figure includes parking receipts from the Government Center ramp, which the department bought from the city last year and had not been under its control the previous year. Revenue from that ramp totaled $787,539 for the year’s first six months and was up by 2.6 percent from the previous year. When revenue from Government Center is removed from the six-month equation, the total drops to $4.07 million, or about $420,000 less than a year earlier.

Ramps at the Gallery on Fulton and at Thirty-Eight Commerce were also new to the FY11 revenue list. Gross revenue from the Gallery ramp was $48,603, and $149,550 from the one at Thirty-Eight.

The department operates 25 ramps and lots in the downtown district; 15 had revenue gains from a year ago, while five had losses. Five others opened during the fiscal year so revenue figures from the previous year don’t exist for comparison purposes. The largest percentage gains, though, occurred in lots, as parkers continued their trend toward using lower-cost parking options.

The department’s total gross revenue, which includes income from the ramps, lots and meters, was $5.7 million for the year’s first half, up from nearly $5.3 million a year ago for an increase of 7.9 percent.

The last day of the old year helped push that revenue total up. Parking Services Parking Manager Kimberly Miller said Dec. 31 was a good revenue day as it produced $34,600.

“We had huge crowds in Grand Rapids,” she said. “We turned spaces over several times during the day, which was good.”

Miller said a New Year’s Eve celebration held in Rosa Parks Circle, a performance by the Grand Rapids Symphony, and a Grand Rapids Griffins hockey game were the key events that brought people downtown that day. “Revenue was good,” she added.

Revenue from the month-long holiday coupon promotion that offered one-hour of free parking was also up from the previous year. Miller said 892 coupons were used and were worth $1,709 in free parking, which meant the department gave away 17 percent more in parking time from a year earlier when the free parking was worth $1,458. She also said about 20 percent of those who redeemed coupons spent $1,885 on additional parking, which was up by nearly 60 percent from the $1,179 spent in 2009.

Miller said the holiday promotion was more successful this year because more downtown merchants participated in it. Twenty-three signed on for it this past holiday season, while 18 took part the year before. Almost half of the coupons, which were distributed by the merchants, were used at the Monroe Center ramp.

As for the monthly parking status, Ritsema reported that 5,864 card were in use in early January. The number is consistent with the previous quarter, but was up by 223 from the same time a year ago. The number of monthly parkers in the city’s system has been fairly constant for the past two years.

“We are up in the number of cards issued and the number of cards available because we added some cards this year,” she said. The department had 1,675 monthly-parking cards for sale earlier this month.

Ritsema said she has heard recently from developers asking about the potential availability of the system’s parking lots, and she felt that construction could possible resume again downtown. The lots, however, have been money makers for the system. Still, Ritsema said she has begun searching for potential new locations in case a lot or two is sold for new developments.

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