Dinkytown, city collaborate to solve parking needs

Laurie Kemp

Although Dinkytown has been dealing with massive construction and traffic jams since February, area business owners are thinking of the future and a new parking ramp.
“We’ve got businesses thinking about long-term parking solutions,” said Barry Bosold, president of the Dinkytown Business Association and chairman of the Parking Committee. “If we’re going to get a ramp, we’ll be pushing to have it in two years.”
Dinkytown has historically been short on parking. Bosold said plans for a long-term parking solution are not new, but ongoing construction and the consequent increased communication with the city has given Dinkytown businesses the chance to achieve this goal.
“A window of opportunity has opened for us to seize the moment,” Bosold said. “What could have been a catastrophic building experience has given us the opportunity to grow.”
With collaborative efforts from the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Dinkytown Business Association and local businesses expanded an existing parking lot. The Dinkytown Parking Facility on Fifth Street S.E. added 87 spots in November and can now accommodate 124 vehicles.
Three private lots were added to the existing facility, which was owned and operated by the House of Hanson, and First Bank also allowed its contract parking to be integrated.
Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis are leasing the lots until December 1997. Owners of the properties that were incorporated into the expanded lot will be compensated for the lost income on their land with a decreased real estate tax.
The expanded lot provided a way to recover all of the parking lost because of construction, said Bruce Polacyzk, the design engineer for the Hennepin County Department of Public Works. More than half of the area’s metered spaces are not available during construction because traffic has been rerouted, he said.
Contract parking has been relocated to the Merchants Lot on Sixth Street, which is owned by St. Lawrence Church.
Because contract parkers — many of whom are employees of Dinkytown businesses — were relocated, they are receiving a reduced rate. Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis are each spending $12,000 a year to provide this compensation, Polacyzk said.
How the expanded lot will be used after construction is finished is still up in the air, but it is used by customers now.
“We’re certainly busy,” said Terry Hanson, manager of the Dinkytown Parking Facility. Use of the lot has doubled, he said, from 300 cars per day to nearly 600. Validated parking has also increased since construction began, especially from the restaurants, he added.
Expanding the parking lot provided practice in working with the city, Bosold said, but the area still needs more parking. The experience of creating this expanded lot will help when a new ramp is proposed, Bosold said.
The Dinkytown Business Association is working on a statement to submit to the city and the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood. The association hopes to have a plan for a parking ramp completed in two months, Bosold said.