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Denver Tries to Balance Loss of Parking with Downtown Vibrancy

At the edge of the Great Plains, Denver would seem to have plenty of room for everything, including parking. But a development boom in downtown Denver has reduced the number of parking lots, and the city is learning to evolve.
March 22, 2015, 8am PDT | Josh Stephens | @jrstephens310
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Pretty much every new building in and around downtown Denver -- and there are a lot of them -- was built on the site of a former parking lot. While the city's planners, developers, and young residents applaud this trend, it has led to the unintended consequence of tighter parking for the commuters, and some residents, who rely on cars to get in and out of the city's business district. Some auto-oriented commuters, who make up 43 percent of the downtown workforce, who were long accustomed to their lots have arrived at work to find bulldozers where their parking spaces used to be. 

The laws of supply and demands are in full effect, as the cost of parking rises while supply drops. Some of the salient statistics include: 

  • The total number of parking spaces has dropped from a high of 43,766 in 2010 to 42,009 today.
  • Daily rates for surface parking lots have risen from $7 in 2010 to $9 today.
  • Monthly rates have gone from $115 to $122 in the same period. 
To commuters concerned about higher costs and longer walks from parking lots to their offices, planners say that it's the price of progress. 

"As surface parking lots go away, downtown becomes much more inviting and walkable," Ken Schroeppel, an instructor of planning and design at the University of Colorado Denver, told the Denver Post. "We used to be a car-oriented cowtown that looked at parking as a fundamental right. But now, as a big city, we shouldn't always expect to find cheap and easy parking downtown."

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Published on Sunday, March 1, 2015 in The Denver Post
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