Detroit Contemplates Privatizing Parking Assets

In his quest to leave no source of potential revenue unexplored, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is looking into selling Detroit's parking lots, meters and garages. The experiences of other cities who've trodden a similar path offer cause for caution.

"As part of a broader plan that includes valuing the Detroit Institute of Arts collection, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr wants to put a price tag on the money-losing municipal parking system before deciding whether to sell it," report Robert Snell and Christine Ferretti. "Motorists might end up paying more for parking in Detroit regardless of a sale, experts say, considering Detroit offers some of the least expensive parking rates nationwide and officials are restructuring city government after filing the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history."

"Other cities have profited by spinning off parking, most notably Chicago," Snell and Ferretti note. "But the deal led to five years of rate hikes and reports the private company that took over the system will make 10 times the amount it paid the city."

While Chicago's deal netted the city $1.2 billion in exchange for a 75-year lease, estimates of the value of a lease or sale of Detroit's parking assets have been far lower: between $65-$75 million.  

Full Story: Detroit EM Orr may put city's garages, meters up for sale

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