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.”