Park South parking study AMC employees home ZIPs

How much parking is enough?

Park South parking study AMC employees home ZIPs

From the study: Where AMC employees live by ZIP code. (Don't squint, here's a larger version.)

How much is enough?

That's one of the questions at the center of the parking and transportation study for the plan to clear two whole blocks of Albany's Park South neighborhood near Albany Med, one of the most interesting projects in the Capital Region.

The study -- from Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, a consultancy hired by the city -- looks at the projected demand for parking created by the residential/medical/retail project, and the number of spaces that would be available after completion. And it concludes that the current proposal exceeds the number of necessary spaces as figured under industry guidelines. The report figures that peak parking demand on the site would fall short of capacity by about 120 spaces.

That more-than-enough finding might not be notable if not for the attention the project has caught for the size of its parking garage, which developers reduced to about 816 spots after getting feedback. The consultancy's report doesn't frame the finding as a prompt for an even smaller garage, rather it's "a great opportunity to accommodate the parking for other future uses at this site."

But the report does focus some attention on details related to the parking garage, with an eye toward lessening the impact on appearance and pedestrian safety.

park south parking garage rendering 2013 Robin original proposalpark south parking garage designs 2013-12-13
Top: The parking garage as originally proposed. Bottom: A revised plan based on feedback the developer got last fall leading up to a Common Council vote on the project.

Among the recommendations: taller residential buildings to hide the part of the garage that "still protrudes above the residences, creating an awkward condition that is not only aesthetically odd"; and a wider sidewalk on Myrtle Ave along the garage.

If you're interested in urban planning or development, the report is worth a quick read. There are a bunch of interesting bits about how parking projections are calculated, and how various strategies -- including transit, and getting Albany Med, the VA and other institutions in the area to work together on parking -- might lessen demand for parking.

One of the bits that stood out for us: The above map depicting where Albany Med employees live. AMC is one of the Capital Region's largest private employers -- with about 7,000 employees -- so it was interesting to get a sense of their geographic distribution.

The Albany Common Council passed resolutions necessary for the project last December, so it's now in the hands of the city planning board. Columbia Development, which is coordinating the project for Albany Med and Tri-City Rentals, got approval last month to begin the phased demolition work on the site. The project's plans still need a final sign-off from the planning board.

A Columbia VP said last month if the demolition goes as expected, and the planning board OKs the final plan, construction could start in October.

map: Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, from "Park South Neighborhood PTDM Peer Review," p. 13

Comments

Great post!

Over-supply of parking tends to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. With plentiful and cheap parking available, people are incentivized to use their cars instead of their feet, their bikes, and public transport. Restrict the supply, and the incentives are reversed.

I believe the answer to your question is "too much parking is not enough."

This study confirms exactly what I’ve noticed in my daily walk through this section of the city to get to work, that parking is easily available, specifically within the immediate area, and doesn’t require an inordinate amount of walking time away from ones destination. It also demonstrates the shortsightedness in building new parking when simple and rather cost effective traffic management alternatives exist, yet have been lukewarmly embraced. I'm very disappointed that some fairly bright leadership in the community have opted to squander such a prime development opportunity for a parking garage. Nearly a quarter of the proposed land being developed on will be dedicated to the parking garage and mark my words, I won't be surprised if this is the first piece of the project that gets executed.

It frustrates me given the vast number of paved parking lots that already exist in the area (see link below to a visual of what I mean, but also reinforced in the study), why the current land devoted to parking can't be developed into a parking garage. There appears to be more land devoted to parking than the buildings themselves, so there is plenty to work with!! If there is a genuine need for more parking beyond the current under-utilized capacity, due to projections demonstrating that this development will spur more economic activity, than let’s build on existing surface parking infrastructure. If we want to call ourselves long-term thinkers on the issue of needing more parking in the future, we should have the self-respect to carry that skillset over to our thinking on the long-term land management practices in this corridor.

I don't think we should fuel the congestion of the area with more parking, but instead should embrace the many transportation management options (e.g. mass transit incentives; carpooling; eliminate cheap parking, etc.) this study proposes. I'm probably on the loosing side of this argument, and in that case, feel strongly that we should at least build up from the current mess of parking lots in existence, rather than tear down more taxable land for more parking. I appreciate that there is tangled web of ownership among these lots, but given everyone here seems to have parking concerns, I cooperative situation could be worked out.

https://maps.google.com/?ll=42.650753,-73.775253&spn=0.010621,0.026071&t=h&z=16

Couldn't agree more with the above comments. I think the study confirms what anyone with open eyes can see on a daily basis: AMC is too auto-centric already, and there's quite simply no need for more parking. There are, however, things the city can do to make streamlining the parking situation easier. My take is at http://itineranturbanist.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/existing-parking-under-utilized-add-more-the-story-of-albanys-park-south-redevelopment/

I find the geographic location of AMC employees to be particularly useful for this debate. While AMC is a significant slice of the pie for the area, yet does not account for the other players in this University Heights neighborhood, it does paint a picture of where folks are coming from. I’m one of those individuals that take the 734 identified in the study, and from the employee overlay on the map, I see that anywhere from 500-868 people could take advantage of utilizing the bus rather than driving. Currently, the 734 is fairly packed, but it’s all folks going downtown and not being utilized by the AMC workforce (unless they happen to be walking, which I doubt, or using another bus line, which the study indicates is minimal).

As a former AMC employee 8 years ago, I know a lot of my colleagues that lived close to AMC or at least a bus line in the suburbs, said that the bus took as long as driving, and therefore not worth it, especially if they wanted to go somewhere after work. I know it may be difficult to disabuse folks of the spontaneous ability to be able to go anywhere anytime, which a car arguably allows for, but CDTA has made some wonder changes to trunk route efficiency and neighborhood connectors, making the bus a far more attractive option. AMC and CDTA should coordinate together and offer employees a month of free riding (just show their ID to the bus driver) so that those willing to try it way back before the significant route changes were available are able to witness the upgrades, while those new to riding the bus can experiment with the options and whether the bus can accommodate their lifestyle.

I think many employees, especially those within the City of Albany, and even immediate suburbs, will be pleasantly surprised giving the bus a try for a few weeks. I know I’ve evangelized many of my downtown colleagues, who found the transition not as painful. Yes, some chores one may want to do after work are time consuming by bus, but my colleagues have either used the car that one day, or learned to pool those errands on a weekend and wrap them all up by car in one trip.

This whole project drives me crazy. Boiling it down - the 816 car garage is too big for the neighborhood. That's plan and simple. Scale it back.

The report seems to suggest this, with TDM and a high internal capture the capacity could be reduced by 240 spaces. That's a single story right there so fine, lop on off, call it a day. Or put a green roof on, community garden, think outside the box just a little. http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/40794#.U6BKNfldWuI

But "future growth" What? Where did that come from? What future growth? Is there something that the city has failed to tell the nighborhood about this project? The original community developed PSURP has been so hacked up and enhanced it looks like an aging star. The scale is completely out of proportion. We, yes we, spend thousands on a study, completely obliterate it, then spend thousands more on another study with similar recommendations as as the planning dept. memo on Nov. 13, 2013. The garage is too big. We already built two ENORMOUS garages across the street from the hospital. And the utilization rate of those garages? Lower than the on-street parking lots. 61-80%. There's capacity folks. Plenty.

The scenario must play our differently and the new administration has to stand up for the neighborhoods, as promised all throughout the campaign.

Build 640 spaces, not 920. Implement TDM, IF and when future development occurs, then review - and do something to better manage the site behind the law school if needed - but don't put the cart before the horse.

Like many commentators above, I'm failing to the City's commitment to the neighborhood, and I'm disappointed. The city has a real opportunity to provide substantive guidance on this development. Here's to hoping the planning board listeners. God help us if no one shows up to speak despite the frustration. This can't be a lost cause.

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