DIB seeks input on downtown parking

By Sammi Sontag

With downtown Pensacola growing rapidly there has been a burning need to increase parking and the Downtown Improvement Board and Structured Parking Solutions held a public forum to kick-off the project, Tuesday afternoon.

“We need to start looking in the future as downtown develops, there is going to be a large impact on parking,” said Gregory Darden, business development director for Structured Parking Solutions.

Last year, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and the City Council commissioned the West Florida Regional Planning Council study downtown parking needs. The report revealed that the Palafox commercial core corridor had an immediate deficit of 1,998 park spaces. However, areas on the edges of the downtown core had sufficient available spaces to possibly meet those needs.

The DIB is working to make sure the parking situation is addressed and tackled in years to come, Darden said.

The downtown project will be done in six phases. Phase one is underway and phase two is slowly being put into action, according to Darden.

“The first phase is a serious of improvements and impacts to downtown parking and transportation,” he said. “This process would happen within the next four to five months. While phase two will take a little longer, 12 to 13 months, working to validate budgets and things of that sort.”

Building, business and property owners were in attendance on Tuesday and offered ideas about parking solutions.

Jay Dickson with Volkert Construction Services said the central idea people should take from these meetings and discussions is the importance of promoting downtown economic growth and developing a parking system that works.

“When you reinvest revenue in the proper parking technology and improvements, you inherently increases downtown’s viability,” he said.

Dickson added, “There are three main goals we have to promote this growth, improve customer experience, promote a vibrant downtown and create a financially sustainable parking system.”


2 thoughts on “DIB seeks input on downtown parking

  1. In 2006, city voters approved a plan for the Community Maritime Park “economic development” project that included a 976-space structured parking facility in Phase II. One big problem no one has ever fessed up to is that the Pensacola City Council led by Mayor Mike Wiggins falsified completion of the voter-mandated “economic viability analysis” study. In spite of my protestations, the City Council voted it complete under duress. City Manager Al Coby later confessed in response to my public records request that the study was never even begun. The City Council and the CMPA knew, received a copy of Coby’s response and covered it up. The study was doubly-important because people working on the UWF campus were already saying in private that UWF was going to abandon its role in the project long before that decision was ever made public. That change put even more importance on private investment, investment that is never going to be made without first addressing the parking shortfall. The City Council could have used the New Market Tax Credit dollars to build the parking structure but again were under pressure to let the CMPA squander it as they did. Here we are now in 2017 with more than $100,000,000 in public money spent or obligated in future years and people have to park on the grass. Whatever it takes, the City Council needs to bite the bullet on the parking structure and build it. If not, the Community Maritime Park will continue to drown in more than $3 million debt each year (money diverted from other citywide and countywide needs) and for much of the year mostly be a big empty area upon which to fly kites.

Comments are closed.