Is It Time For A Parking Deck In Uptown?


Today we’re going to give that clown car more commonly known as the Board and Administration of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 an undeserved break from the barbecuing they’ve earned with: (a) their deceitful and secretive closed-session deliberations about raises for D-64 administrators; and, (b)worse yet, their deceitful and brazen refusal to post the new teachers’ contract well in advance of its being voted on.

We’ll get back to them soon enough.

Today’s topic is why the City of Park Ridge needs, or at least should have, a parking deck in Uptown that can hold in excess of 100 vehicles. And why it should be built on the land currently serving as a City parking lot on Summit at Euclid.

Is parking a terrible problem in Uptown?

Not really, except for those folks who believe they are entitled to a spot within 20 feet of their destination and then whine about how bad the parking is when they don’t get one.

Nevertheless, being proactive in this situation is better than being reactive, especially where the success of our newest and older restaurants, as well as the other businesses in that area, will increasingly depend on building a larger and larger customer base by luring non-residents who will want reasonably convenient parking.

Is a parking deck optimal? No. Many people will drive around for 5 or 10 minutes looking for surface parking rather than park in a deck, much less in an underground garage.

But it’s not too difficult to conceive of a time when we really won’t have enough surface spaces to satisfy what we hope will be a growing demand. So a deck that can park at least 100 cars would be a welcome addition.

And what better place to put it than on property already off the tax rolls because it’s already owned by the City? A four-story deck at the corner of Summit and Ridge – with a three story building sitting to the west and a 5/6-story building across Euclid to the east – would not be an overwhelming presence.

How to do it?

We would prefer to see a private developer purchase the land from the City so that it goes back on the tax rolls like it was before the City acquired it about a decade ago. Let it resume generating property taxes, at the higher commercial rate, so long as a covenant is imposed on the land that requires it to be a parking deck – at least until some future City Council decides to remove that covenant in pursuit of a higher and better use.

If that doesn’t work, the City might consider incentivizing a developer to front the design and construction costs by offering a multi-year ground lease where the developer pays some nominal “rent” and perhaps shares parking revenues with the City.

The third alternative is for the City to fund, build and operate the deck. But we’ve often said that if the private sector doesn’t think something is worth investing in, it probably isn’t worth the taxpayers’ investment, either.

If there truly is a “need” for more parking in Uptown, a private developer is far more capable of determining that need and its value than a bunch of government bureaucrats. Or a bunch of elected officials who know nothing about the parking business. Or some hired-gun consultant who will produce whatever kind of analysis the bureaucrats or politicians who hired him want.

Whether this is an idea whose time has come, or not, remains to be seen.

But the best way to find out is to put that City lot on the market and see what kind of interest it draws.

Tick tock, City.

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