Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Parking in the Bottom: another phony argument against development

Another installment in my ongoing series debunking the bogus arguments put forward by opponents of development in Shockoe Bottom. A common argument advanced by opponents is that there isn't enough parking and that traffic will be bad.

What every business owner in Shockoe Bottom will tell you is that there isn't remotely enough traffic in Shockoe Bottom. The whole point of development in Shockoe Bottom is to increase traffic--and the commerce it brings--in this blighted area.

As for parking, Shockoe Bottom is the staging point for several large festivals. Shamrock the Block (seen above) routinely drew more than 25,000 people to Shockoe Bottom. The 1st Annual Richmond Bacon Festival drew more than 17,000 people. The new stadium proposed for Shockoe Bottom would hold a paltry 7,000. If more than 25,000 people can find a place to park for a festival, then I think they can manage to find a place to park for a baseball game attracting a crowd a third of the size of festival crowds.

And that's before the construction of a new parking deck. Mayor Dwight Jones' redevelopment plan for the Bottom includes the construction of a large new parking deck. In addition, two large parking decks owned by the State of Virginia and currently used primarily for state employees during the day could be made available for public parking after 5:00 pm.

Those of us who live and work downtown and in Shockoe Bottom know that there is plenty of parking. Indeed, parts of downtown become a ghost town after 6:00 pm in the summer time, which is precisely when most baseball games would occur. Mayor Jones' redevelopment plan would provide a welcome shot of economic activity to this part of town.

Shockoe Bottom recently lost the Shamrock the Block festival--it has relocated to the growing Scott's Addition neighborhood. Business owners in the Bottom are working to replace Shamrock the Block with their own St. Patrick's Day-themed festival: Shockoe Fest. Shockoe Bottom not only wants more traffic, it is willing to fight for it.

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