With Central Corridor light-rail construction more than halfway complete, officials are examining how it will impact the Stadium Village area over the next 20 years.
The 137-page plan – compiled by the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and the University of Minnesota – addresses everything from retail development and housing to bike racks and roadways.
A key concern for residents and workers, however, was the lack of parking.
By the time the light rail opens in 2014, the Stadium Village area will lose 191 on-street parking spaces and 52 off-street stalls, according to a parking study conducted by Biko Associates.
The study found there is usually a surplus of parking, but it is not always convenient to users or priced attractively.
“There are parking options available,” said University Parking and Transportation Services spokeswoman Jacqueline Brudlos. PTS monitors University ramps and meters, which both have open spaces.
“The Oak Street ramp is a good place for people to park, and that doesn’t fill up,” Brudlos said.
To better utilize the available parking, the plan suggests installing signage and creating a website to direct parkers to available stalls.
City of Minneapolis planner Haila Maze, however, said ramp parking isn’t always the price and convenience that people want.
“I’ve never paid parking at the U,” said pharmacy graduate student John Doric. “I felt like it was way overpriced.”
In a survey for the plan with 449 respondents, 59.7 percent said “not enough parking” was one of the biggest challenges facing the area. The second most common response was “traffic congestion,” with 57.9 percent.
“Honestly, the parking has been pretty bad from the beginning, so I don’t know if [the light rail will] make that much of a difference,” Doric said.
To address the concern, the city has begun installing more metered parking on side streets.
“It’s obviously something we’re dealing with right now; it’s not an off-in-the-future scenario,” Maze said.
An uncertain future
Though some of the plans are already underway, future parking arrangements remain largely undecided.
Some discussion has centered on shared parking arrangements to better utilize current stalls.
“There are just not that many options – you have on-street and you have University ramps,” Maze said. “Because the land is so valuable, it doesn’t really make much sense to say someone should build a new private parking facility.”
On University Avenue Southeast, for example, North Star Resource Group employees use the parking lot during office hours, and in the evening, the Profile Event Center uses the lot.
Brudlos said the University doesn’t have any current plans for shared parking arrangements.
“A lot of things are still kind of up in the air,” she said.
Nancy Rose Pribyl, manager of Dinnaken Properties, said the demand for residential parking has decreased in recent years.
“For the last couple of years we’ve been able to accommodate absolutely everybody, whereas for the first at least 15 years that we were open we always had a waiting list,” she said.
As a member of the steering committee for the plan, Pribyl, who is also president of the Stadium Village Commercial Association, said she focused on ways to tweak parking, like creatively sharing spaces.
Fewer spaces but lower demand
Though the light rail is removing 42 percent of on-street parking in the area, it is also projected to decrease the demand for parking.
By 2030, the parking study estimates there will be 1,830 fewer daily auto trips in the study area.
With this decrease, there could be as many as 370 fewer cars on the campus during the late afternoon and early evening peak period, according to the parking study. This would directly translate into a lower demand for parking.
Maze said, however, that there will never be too much parking in the area.
A lot of the spaces lost will likely be replaced through improvements to side streets, she said, but it won’t necessarily be as convenient.
“That’s part of the trade-off that the region’s been making in terms of investing in transit,” Maze said. “Transit does sometimes, in some ways, make auto traffic less convenient.”