Parking Services Says New DASH Lot Needed

October 23, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS ¡ª According to the Parking Services Department, the city-owned downtown shuttle service needs another DASH lot.

¡°We have very little excess parking, very little,¡± said Pam Ritsema, the department¡¯s director.

The Downtown Development Authority knows that, so the board intends to buy 3.7 acres just south of Wealthy Street for $2,047,200, or $12.70 a square foot, and turn the property into a DASH lot. But the sale won¡¯t close until the DDA expands its boundary and includes the site in its district.

The DASH system has five parking lots. Three are grouped together on the west side near the Grand River, and two are situated in the Heartside Business District south of Van Andel Arena. The five lots have 1,429 parking spaces, and all but 10 of those are allocated to regular DASH users.

¡°Our DASH parking lots are quite full,¡± said Ritsema.

The park-and-ride system has been popular with downtown workers because it offers them the district¡¯s lowest parking prices, ranging from $24 to $35 a month.

If a lot gets built on the site the DDA is likely to buy, Ritsema said a new DASH route may be created and added to the current DASH South and DASH West lines. If so, then a few more shuttle buses will need to be bought. Ritsema said the money is available to do that.

As for the potential site, Ritsema said the lot could park 500 cars if all the buildings are razed. But Parking Commission Chairman Jack Hoffman said the city may soon expand the historic district in Heartside and is likely to include that property. Six buildings are on the site; some are vacant, others aren¡¯t.

Hoffman said at least two of those structures on the southern edge of the property along Logan Street contribute to the district¡¯s history, and the city may want those buildings to remain standing for redevelopment opportunities. If the structures are incorporated into the historic district then the buildings would qualify for historic-renovation tax credits.

If the entire property can¡¯t be cleared, Ritsema said the lot would park from 400 to 420 vehicles.

The DDA wants to buy the property because the commercial corridors near and south of Wealthy Street are undergoing some development. The board believes more investments will be made there in the coming years, and the district will need more parking.

¡°There has been some development interest in this neighborhood,¡± said Ritsema.

If the deal closes, the DDA will buy three acres from SOHAGO Inc. for $1.3 million and seven-tenths of an acre from West Michigan Leasing Inc. for about $736,000. The proposed DASH lot is west of Ionia Avenue and east of U.S. 131 between Wealthy and Logan streets.

Parking Commissioner Kathy Clements, a commercial property manager for Grubb & Ellis ©¦Paramount Commerce, said another DASH lot is needed.

¡°I¡¯ve got people who want to expand their businesses,¡± she said, ¡°but they¡¯re moving out (of downtown) because the ramps are too expensive.¡±

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