St. Louis: Prepared for the 100-Year Parking Event

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This is literally just a snapshot of the parking issue in downtown St. Louis: Steve Patterson of Urban Review STL took this photo last night as the Cardinals were playing game two of the World Series. It’s a photo of the Stadium West parking garage adjacent to Busch Stadium. It’s top level is virtually EMPTY! The City of St. Louis is prepared for the 100-year parking event. Maybe, just maybe, on an evening when the Blues, Cardinals and Rams all play, and the Peabody Opera House is packed, and a downtown festival is bustling… No, downtown St. Louis parking will never be full.

I don’t know how many parking spaces there are downtown. No one does. Initial plans for the revitalized Arch grounds included dedicated parking, reportedly at the insistence of National Park Service. Nevermind the Stadium East garage is one block from the Arch. Arch grounds designer Michael Van Valkenburgh is smart enough to recognize that parking is available in spades. However, the city continues to build more parking. Two blocks from the Stadium West garage, the City of St. Louis recently built a new municipal parking garage. Two blocks to the north sit the underutilized twin Kiener Plaza garages.

So when is the city, or a planning agency going to get serious and simply seek to better understand parking in downtown St. Louis? How much is there? How much do we need? Is it necessary to be prepared for the 100-year parking event? And at what cost? If it isn’t obvious now to those charged with creating a better St. Louis that we’re wasting precious resources, it never will be. Thanks to Greg Jonsson who offered the “100-year parking event” analogy on his Twitter account.

{a view of the Stadium West garage (upper left) and Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis}

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  • T-Leb

    I can’t help but chuckle at the passion against parking in this instance. It’s just business, they are going to make money on parking in the time between more development. Maybe even bankrupt the nearby parking garages by limiting their revenue from game days.

    Just below the picture Tums (GlaxoSmithKlein) has a gated parking area for their employees. I would imagine they could park in the not-at-capacity garages, get some kind of corporate/group rate. Free that space up for something, better streetscape, something.

    I would fear for places like BBs, Broadway Oyster Bar and Beale on Broadway from this subsidized development. But they all say they actually do better with live music over Cardinals/Blues game nights. A testament to the economic value of the live music scene in StL.

  • gmichaud

    I was just reading some City of London literature earlier today. Only thirty-eight percent of people living in the City of London have cars, the rest use transit, downtown London (as well as downtown Helsinki and other cities) are largely devoid of parking. London is a large city, but the Helsinki metro area is about the same size as St. Louis.
    Look on google maps around Ttrafalgar Square London and try to find parking lots. (Across from the National Gallery)
    Or try google maps for Senate Square in Helsinki Finland (Across from Helsinki Cathedral)
    There is barely any parking at all if you look closely at these maps The reality is that parking is a real money maker here in St. Louis: easy money. Of course to continue the gravy train it requires opposing transit, building Walgreens everywhere and so on.
    St. Louis , like much of the country, is run to benefit a few moneyed insiders. The result is that parking is shoved down everyone’s throats.

  • I just noticed the name, Michael Van Walkenburg. He was in Chicago in earlier this month to talk about the Bloomingdale Trail. He’s a smart designer, I think.

  • Top five least liked downtown parking garages/lots:

    5.) Washington Avenue at US Bank building
    4.) Park Pacific Garage
    3.) Train Shed at Union Station
    2.) Laclede’s Landing lot at 3rd and Washington
    1.) Broadway and Locust

  • JAE

    The only parking I’d like downtown is handicapped: it was quite difficult to get to the arch with my wheelchair-using grandmother, despite her handicapped parking permit. Everyone else should be able to walk a few blocks.

    • Douglas Duckworth

      The only garage I found which had cars consistently on the top level was the one at 8th and Washington.  However, even at peak times there is plenty of parking downtown.  When I measured during baseball games, all of the garages surrounding the OPO were nearly empty.  

  • Joe

    The Kiener and Stadium garages need to be torn down and turned into mixed-use infill. The deadest areas of downtown are the ones near garages. Probably the least safe areas also. You can always incorporate parking into any mix-use project. Dedicated garages are no longer needed in downtown.