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.

To read or post comments, click on title.

6 comments so far

Has there been any credible discussion on the issue of a private developer purchasing property from the City to build a parking deck?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We recall the Council preliminarily discussing it but that they were looking for a parking study to see if they could get a better sense of the true “need” for more parking in Uptown.

I have never had a problem parking, but since Shakou opened I have found parking noticeably difficult on Friday and Saturday nights. If a private developer wants to build a deck on that city property either by purchasing or leasing the land, I think it’s a no-brainer replacing a surface lot with a 100-car or more deck.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re always a bit concerned with anything termed a “no-brainer” – if only because so much of what our local governments (especially our school boards) do seems to be brainless.

Makes sense to sell the land. Not sure if the parking structure is the best idea for generating tax revenues. It would be nice to use the proceeds from the sale of the land to pay down some of the debt related to the TIF. Don’t even know if that is possible.

Alternatively, using the proceeds from the sale of land to reduce the amount of the increasing property tax bill for a year would also be nice.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Until it’s listed, we’ll have no idea if there is any private developer interest in it – and whether any such interest is for a parking deck or just more of that low-hanging multi-family residential fruit.


It’s akin to the “if you build it they will come” situation….Maybe the lack of parking options is what keeps uptown Park Ridge from turning into the next Edison Park or downtown Arl. Hts? A city owned garage, although not necessarily in and of itself a profit generator, may end up paying for itself many times over through the increased sales tax revenues in the city coffers from local businesses. That seems to be the case with the multiple city owned garages in booming downtown Arl. Hts. I’ve been to downtown Arl. Hts. as many times as I’ve been to Park Ridge over the years because I know that when it’s brutally cold out I’m going to find a snow bank free parking space a short distance from destination…

OTOH the city owned garages in Des Plaines are an entirely different matter, and it seems that the local population doesn’t have the interest or ability to support that Metropolitan Sq. area – but that area has been a disaster since even I was a kid – anyone remember the mall that used to be there? Maybe these are problems specific to Des Plaines? Not sure…

Edison Park on the other hand does pretty well for itself, and there is limited parking, but there also seem to be many more of those Metra commuter spots open than Park Ridge has available on the weekends…

But surely, it’s more complicated than “a private developer should do it” because if it were that simple, there would be privately owned public parking garages all over, yet the only place they seem to exist is downtown where they can charge $38 a day. Does it even cost to park in a garage for an evening in Arl Hts, or Des Plaines, or evanston, or naperville? I’m not sure…


After paying attention to all of the local governments in this community for over 25 years one thing that has become clear to us is that none of this stuff is all that “complicated” – and that anybody who insists it is either is clueless or is blowing smoke up somebody’s kilt because their own special-interest agenda isn’t served by the intrinsic simplicity of these issues.

The reason there aren’t “privately owned public parking garages all over” is most likely because savvy private developers who actually understand economics and don’t have the luxury of irresponsibly gambling with OPM (unlike certain public officials blowing the taxpayers’ money) can’t make the numbers/dollars work. At least not yet, or not with the available private property in the Uptown area.

Like it…. imagine the city being actually PROACTIVE …..

EDITOR’S NOTE: The City has often been “actually PROACTIVE”: it’s just that, far too often (and pre-2009) that proactivity has involved squandering taxpayer money and/or piling up long-term City debt to advance some stupid or wasteful project that should have been left to the private sector – like the facade-improvement program, and all the money it sunk into the Updown Redevelopment project to enhance the developer’s interest with no direct measurable payback.

Contrast that to when the City lets the private sector be “PROACTIVE” – such as with Whole Foods (where the then-council rejected the developer’s demand for around $3 million in tax-revenue sharing, thereby incurring the wrath of the memebers of the Economic Development Task Force, only to have the developer blink and withdraw that demand), Shakou, Holt’s, Harp & Fiddle, various residential structures like the Trammell Crow project next to WF and several other smaller residential developments.

I thought this article was going to include the recent screw job on the train commuters that just happened on Prarie. After AT&T cut off commuter parking in their lot on Prairie almost two years ago (apparently so they could park 2 trucks on it), the mayor and alderman were talking about making parking options available. Although that happened after the mayor told the train commuters to deal with it.

How did the city help alleviate the train commuter parking squeeze? By DOUBLING the cost of the meters on Prairie to only half an hour.l for every quarter instead of a full hour like it was. So, a train commuter not fortunate to get in the $2.00 lot now has to pay $4.00 for 8 hours of parking.

Way to solve the problem City Hall!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: And YOUR idea is…?

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