Property Rounds: Downtowns seek a balance on parking

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Parking availability is certainly a balancing act. Ample parking is no good. Not enough parking means businesses are booming, the local area is thriving and the market is hot. Unfortunately, we don’t all think with a business cap on. If parking is too hard to come by people get frustrated. They will lose interest in the area and go somewhere else. Southwestern Connecticut is trying to deal with this delicate balance.

“P.J. Prunty, director of City Center Danbury, said he occasionally hears from people who are unhappy with the parking situation in downtown Danbury. The frustration, he believes, is a matter of perception. “People want to park right in front of the place they are going to eat or shop, but that’s not always realistic in downtown centers,” states Prunty.

Another Connecticut community is dealing with issues of their own. Bridgeport recently implemented a new parking measure to help downtown property owners. By request of the city planning department, a measure was approved to eliminate all off-street parking requirements in the downtown zones. “We really want to do all that we can to encourage development downtown so that we can get to the kind of residential density we need to really begin to support the retail,” said Bill Coleman, deputy director of the Office of Planning and Economic Development. The plan is to alleviate the worry for developers and businesses to find spaces directly on their property for residential or commercial use.

Stamford city officials are also looking into a review of off-street parking requirements, said Ralph Blessing, land use bureau chief. “The Norwalk Parking Authority has installed systems allowing drivers to pay with smartphones, and among other initiatives added a real-time monitor of available spaces online covering the South Norwalk Train Station and the garage at the Maritime Aquarium.” In the last year, many communities have been switching out parking meters that take quarters with pay stations and pay-by-phone meters to help aid with the parking crisis. Read more about it here.