Downtown Parking: A 2012 Preview

Yogi Berra is alleged to have said no one goes to a certain restaurant anymore because it's too crowded. Are we at the point where no one goes downtown anymore because all the parking spaces are full?

Longtime downtowners know that criticism of parking has always been overstated. It was usually a matter of where the parking is located rather than its lack. But the incoming administration of Mayor Madeline Rogero may find it is an issue that has to be dealt with soon. Kimberly-Clark announced it wants to lease a suburban space; a collection agency felt the need to announce it doesn't want to pay for parking anymore and will move out of downtown. These announcements have raised the issue anew.

It's true that more and more people are living and working downtown, not to mention attending special events, farmer's markets, and musical venues.

The Rogero administration's options include short-term low-cost and long-term high-cost parking.

One option is the plan to add two floors to the top of the State Street Garage.

Short term, look for a city initiative to get more downtown workers and residents to get their cars off the street and into parking decks. Look for more attention being paid to parking meters.

In the meantime, the city is studying ways to keep Kimberly-Clark downtown. One long-term proposal has been floating around for about 10 years. It involves building a deck on the side of the hill on Jackson Avenue, across from the McClung Warehouses. It could service TVA workers, the empty TVA tower, and Kimberly-Clark workers on the other side of Summit Hill Avenue—if TVA and Kimberly-Clark could be persuaded to participate in the project.