PARKING “CHARRETTE’: Texas St. in Shreveport

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PARKING “CHARRETTE’: Texas St. in Shreveport

 INTRO
As a printing company focused on the changes in the parking and transit industries, Southland Printing has an increased awareness of the necessity for appropriate parking accommodations to fit the needs of growth opportunity throughout Shreveport, LA, its hometown. 
The potential for other similar-sized cities to participate in developing solutions has surfaced in recent years. Southland would like to be a conduit to bring this and other topics forward whenever parking or transit communities are together for “think tank” opportunities.
 
OVERVIEW
The parking needs for residential development are different from those for office space, and this is a key point. 
There is a need to build more parking structures in the downtown historic Texas Street District in Shreveport. It will be important to accommodate “the correct number of parking spaces in the right places” to grow opportunities for developers to invest and revitalize the area. 
 
PROBLEM
In June 2014, a commentary in the Shreveport Times was headlined: “To Park or Not to Park – It’s not a question downtown.” Guest Columnist Liz Swaine, Director of the city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA), expressed the following concern: “Without the correct number of spaces in the right places, downtown residential is going to remain an elusive dream, developers will continue to walk away, and downtown’s most important historic buildings could remain just as they are today – vacant.” 
 
Three historic buildings in the 600 Block of Texas Street are being given new life as part of a multimillion-dollar residential project. 
The Sears building, the largest of the three, will house 57 apartments and a penthouse, and retail spaces. The building has been vacant for at least 25 years. It is 80,000 square feet and includes six floors and a basement. The bottom two floors will be used for retail and the top floors for market-rate apartments. (A New Orleans style music club is looking at opening in late 2015.) 
Next-door is the two-story Zodiag building, which was a dry goods store, built in 1900 by Herman Zodiag. The adjacent three-story building was Furman’s and later a Franklin’s, in the 1950s. Also, Southern University’s Metro Center, located next-door, plans to convert the historic Allen building in the same block into a nursing school (which will add 300 students). 
The well-known and highly used venues of artspace (http://artspaceshreveport.com) and the Robinson Film Center (http://www.robinsonfilmcenter.org) are also located in the same area. Currently, the Center has a parking lot with 10 spaces for patrons. It hosts the Louisiana Film Prize each year, which brings in filmmakers from all over. The need for parking is great during all events that the Center and artspace host. 
 
SOLUTION
A parking “charrette” – an intensive collaborative session in which participants draft solutions to a problem – was developed by Ann Porterfield, Sales Account Manager at Southland Printing, and Brandy Stanley, Las Vegas Parking Services Manager. The two worked together to develop the session for the 2014 Southwest Parking and Transportation Association conference. (Stanley is Vice President of the regional group.)
The session gave the overview and problem to attendees, with the opportunity for them to critically review and ascertain feasible solutions. 
A parking garage would provide for Sears residential and retail, for Southern University students, and for the artspace and Robinson Film Center weekday events and nighttime events. The covered parking structure would be a private partnership between Sears and Southern, not a project guaranteed by the city. 
The greatest need overall is for secure residential parking available 24/7. 
 
RESULTS
Six SWPTA teams reviewed and identified methods to address the problem:
1. Identify funding, public and private. Conduct a parking/traffic study, where additional parking can be located; determine land availability. Separate facilities might allow for a phased approach. 
Contributors: Michael Schmitt of Dick & Fritsche Design Group and Lars Erickson of McCarthy Building Cos.
2. Conduct an occupancy study to evaluate the need; replace Franklin’s and Zodiag buildings with automated mechanical garage (city financed or private); move daily employee parkers from area surface lots to casino garages and shuttle to downtown; add car-share and bike-share; add valet for events at film center theaters. 
Contributors: Toni Covington of ABM Onsite Services; Deb Graham of Arizona State University; and Johnny Waldo of IPS Group.
3. Demolish Franklin’s and Zodiag buildings; add residential parking with security, lighting and cameras; valet, shuttle from riverfront; add garage behind Robinson Film Center to include parkers for jury duty at courthouse. 
Contributors: Brandy Stanley and Khristian Gutierrez of Passport Parking.
4. Add garage behind Sears building and Southern University’s Metro Center if the property is available. Develop a pedestrian mall in the block on Texas across from the courthouse. Add a garage behind Robinson Film Center.
Contributors: Kurt Matthews of City of Boulder, CO; Dan Ferson of Swarco Traffic; Darby Garcia of Northern Arizona University; and Justin Montgomery of Douglas Parking.
5. Add garage behind Sears building; add parking on nearby McNeil if available; turn part of 700 Block of Texas Street into a pedestrian mall. 
Contributors: David Cooker of IPS Group; Dennis Downer of Douglas Parking; and Leslie Griffin of the City of Reno.
6. Add a garage behind the Sears Building; add an automated garage for Sears residents, where Franklin’s and Zodiag building currently stand; event parking valet/shuttle on Texas for events at Robinson; purchase surface lots; review tax increment financing (TIF), eminent domain? Parking impact fees? Does DDA have bonding ability? Shared parking day/night. 
Contributors: Laura Liertz and Mike Simmons of T2 Systems; and Gabe Mendez of ASU.
 
THE BOTTOM LINE
Downtown Shreveport is on the cusp of an incredible resurgence. It just needs a little support and additional parking in the right places to help it on its way. 
Sales Account Manager Ann Porterfield has been with Southland Printing for more than 20 years. Contact her at ann@southlandprinting.com. Contact Brandy Stanley, Las Vegas Parking Services Manager, at bstanley@lasvegasnevada.gov.

Article contributed by:
Ann Porterfield and Brandy Stanley
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