Park Across America


Park Across America

“We are at the awareness stage. Cities, transit authorities, parking authorities, universities, airports, hospitals – all are curious. They have a problem, this is a possible solution.”
Rick West, former Kinney Parking VP and CEO of Avistar, sold his company to Macquarie Bank and stayed with it to lead the acquisition activities of the firm. He is heading the panel on infrastructure acquisition at Park Across America, to be held in April.
“The basic problem is that garages built 30 or 40 years ago now need substantial repair and upgrading, and most cities don’t have the capital to do it. They see these assets as severe problems, West said. The city of Chicago, for instance, solved the problem by leasing the asset on a long-term basis, with the requirement that the lessor return the garages in pristine condition.
It was a “win-win, he said. The city received a substantial up front payment, and the private sector could use its capital sources and business acumen to turn the facilities into profitable ventures.”
“When I was at the IQPC U.S. Infrastructure Investing Summit in October (2006), pension funds, state DOTs, Moody’s, investment banks, the city of Chicago, debt banks, legal and accounting firms and others were in attendance. But most questions were very basic, such as (i) what is infrastructure (asset types or asset characteristics); (ii) who are the players, (iii) how do you initiate a public-private-partnership and (iv) what is important to all sides to generate a win-win transaction and sustainable relationship?”
These and other questions suggested that most attendees are new to the infrastructure topic and need a “connect the dots” education and road map to follow. The goal of the Park Across America Infrastructure panel is to provide the “how to” and “where do I get help” answers so all attendees can get up to speed. This concept is in its infancy, West continues. We know of a number of instances where it has already happened. Chicago has leased or sold its Skyway, its parking garages, and is looking at Midway Airport. Indiana has leased its tollway, and even the famous New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway may be on the block. The city of Minneapolis is currently in the bidding process on its garages.
Although these may seem like huge projects to many smaller communities, West points out that this concept works well in smaller scale projects, too.
“It just makes sense, and it’s politically viable. Here’s a way to have major repair work done on aging assets and receive a substantial amount of up front money – money that can be used for other projects within the municipality, or other public entity. The problem is that these groups simply don’t know where to start.”
Park Across America has been fortunate to attract a number of speakers who have been personally involved in such projects and have the background to answer questions and give advice.
In addition to West, the panel will include Thomas Lanctot of William Blair and Company, which advised the city of Chicago; Duncan Murdock of Macquarie Bank; and Alan Lazowski of Laz Parking: and a representative from Morgan Stanley, the successful bidders in the Chicago Project.
Park Across America is being held simultaneously in four cities: New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle. Four other topics will be covered in the daylong program. They include garage construction, revenue control, the issues with credit card security, the cost of parking operations and how to make best use of your operation dollar.
At least one seminar will be “live” in each city, and the rest will be presented live over CCTV.

For complete information, log on to and click on PAA.

Article contributed by the Parking PT team.
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