An important part of attracting people into downtown areas is the availability of convenient and reasonable parking. Lancaster realizes that. As more businesses open and residents move into adaptive reuse projects, activity increases downtown. A key element in revitalization of a central business district is parking. People flock to malls and strip malls because of free and plentiful parking. As downtown business districts vie for shoppers, parking will make or break them.
Yesterday’s Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era had an article in the business section announcing the city’s plan to build another parking garage downtown. The Redevelopment Authority voted Wednesday to buy land in the 400 block of North Market St. The Lancaster Press building will be turned into 44 condominiums (55+). The Brickyard restaurant needs spaces for customers along with Belvedere, Alley Kat and other nearby restaurants and shops in the 300 block of North Queen St. The public parking will be an added benefit of the Lancaster Press building renovation.
The size and cost of the project will depend on funding. The ballpark at this time is 225 to 370 spaces, costing between $9 and $11 million. Money promised to the city by Governor Ed Rendell has been put on hold by Governor Tom Corbett. Those grants are under review by Governor Corbett’s office. The majority of the cost will be covered under a city bond issue. If all goes well construction could begin next March or April and be concluded by the end of 2012.
The Lancaster Parking Authority will operate the garage for the Redevelopment Authority.
Mayor Chris Doherty told me one of the first things he did was build parking garages in downtown Scranton. There was not adequate parking in Scranton’s downtown to support revitalization. After Mayor Doherty added sufficient parking he was able to take downtown Scranton to new heights.
Lancaster already has a number of parking garages downtown but with increased development more parking is needed. The conversion of the Lancaster Press building is contingent upon adding parking for the residents who will live there. More downtown residents mean more patrons for businesses. Lancaster has a very walkable downtown which is highly desirable for the market segment that is interesting in living in a project like the Lancaster Press building.
On a personal note, I always use the parking garages when I visit downtown Lancaster. They are clean, safe, reasonable and convenient! Two thumbs up to Lancaster for more good decisions on the revitalization of their downtown and city.