Spectrum Health faces parking crunch
The Parking Commission isn’t the only group mulling over downtown parking. Spectrum Health is also considering its parking future.
One of the largest downtown employers, Spectrum Health already is feeling a parking crunch as some of the lots it owns near capacity, according to Rick Redetzke, vice president of facilities and real estate.
“We have constraints for parking,” he said. “Because of growth, we’ve moved into a situation where, around the 1700 block of Michigan Street, we have a large parking lot and we bus staff from there. It is used to primarily park staff for the medical center / Butterworth.”
He said staff members parking in the farther-away lot aren’t thrilled with the parking situation.
“Staff who live on the west side of town don’t want to drive past Butterworth Hospital, all the way to the east, park in this lot, and wait for the shuttle bus to come and drive back to the hospital,” Redetzke said. “Ideally, we wouldn’t have that situation, but parking is constrained downtown, and we manage that based on seniority.”
Hospital employees receive free parking and shuttle service, but Redetzke said that doesn’t change the desire for “front door” parking.
“We are running a 24/7 operation; we have shift changes that happen when it’s dark. Safety is a concern,” he said.
Cost is also an issue for the hospital.
“The other aspect of parking away from the front door is the high expense we have for shuttling patients to remote lots,” he said.
Redetzke said another lot off Seward Street NW has reached capacity and is inhibiting Spectrum’s ability to hire more people into the office space the lot serves.
“We are limited by parking at the facility because of the land and use of land around there,” he said. “We can’t put more people in the building because of parking.”
Spectrum is working on developing alternatives to alleviate the growing parking constraints, including a push for employees to use alternative modes of transportation to get to work.
“We are really trying to be very focused on developing alternative transportation,” Redetzke said. “It’s more than just providing a negotiated rate for city buses. It’s looking at things like car pooling and preference parking; those types of things have dramatic effects for us on our medical center parking strategy.”
So far Spectrum isn’t seeing a huge shift in transportation modes from the programs it has implemented.
“It’s something like $1 or less per (Rapid) ride offered to staff, but right now we have very poor utilization of it,” Redetzke said. “It’s only a few thousand dollars a month of usage — almost nothing compared to the size of our staff.”
Carpooling also has been met with challenges.
“Right now we have less than 20 cars doing that,” he said. “We’ve learned the primary issue is trying to get people matched up. You have to have a database of interested people, where they live and what shift they work to try and get those matches made. We are trying to figure out how to do that.”
Redetzke said Spectrum is committed to alternative transportation.
“We are planning in our parking strategy for an increase in alternate transportation,” he said.
He said other ideas under consideration include using money to motivate employees to park farther away or use alternative transportation.
“We aren’t sitting back waiting for the city to come up with a solution for us,” he said. “We are trying to work with the city and The Rapid and our partners next to us and see what we can do.”