Articles Comments

City Beautiful 21 » Auto Traffic, Carrboro, Density, Economic Development, Libraries, Parking, Plans, Technology » Comments for Second Public Hearing on Library Site at 203 S Greensboro St

Comments for Second Public Hearing on Library Site at 203 S Greensboro St

I sent some comments to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen this evening for tonight’s public hearing. Sorry for not formatting them better, but time was short! Here they are:

First, I appreciate Mr. Spencer’s efforts to capture what was heard last time- I think he got much of the input from the public captured well, and better still- I see it expressed in the new material he created.

Here are my reactions:

1.    On the north side of the block, fronting Roberson Street, remove the drop-off lane. Drop-off-pickup lanes are generally a suburban construct so that traffic can keep moving at high speed. That should not be a purpose that is encouraged on Roberson. Drop-off and pick-up in the urban context should happen at the curb, and these movements help to calm traffic. Removing this zone allows for the extension of the sidewalk to the entrance to the underground parking.

2.    Carrboro has a chance to do real street trees here. If the trees are against the building on Roberson, they do not act as effectively as a traffic control device, and provide less shade in summer. Put the sidewalk between the trees and the building, and it will be easier to look into what I hope will be big windows into the library, while providing more shade for people using the sidewalk.

3.    The parking underground cites 88 spaces per underground tier. I think the project can function with two parking tiers, or even one, meaning either 88 spaces or 176. I suggest dedicating less than 20 spaces to Town Use and leaving the rest as public parking which would be Shared, Managed, Unbundled, and Paid. I talked about what each of these mean in my prior comments.

4.    The remote parking options continue to replicate the primary problem with how “parking” issues have been addressed in downtown Carrboro for years, which is the thought that there will need to be parking built, and that it should be a public deck. We ***MUST*** get beyond this limiting mindset and think about DISTRICT parking downtown where public and private lots contribute spaces to a PUBLIC PARKING DISTRICT.

What does this look like? Let’s say you do a one tier underground parking facility at 203 S Greensboro. 15 spaces reserved for the town, the remaining 73 are public. They get added to the Public Parking District. At any time when those 73 spaces are less than 85% full, it is free to park. When those spaces are more than 85% full, a price is added to help free up some spaces. This gets managed with smart parking apps like those in Chapel Hill, Asheville, and Durham.

How do we add private spaces to the Public Parking District? The parking study clearly shows that one of the emptiest lots in all of downtown is the Bank of America lot, right next to 203 S Greensboro. The Town, having set up the Public Parking District, approaches Bank of America and says: “We see you have 35 spaces that are mostly unused during the lunch crush time for restaurants. We have set up a software-managed Public Parking District. We invite you to put ten spaces into the Public Parking District, keeping 25 for yourself. They will be priced to keep them 15% empty. At times of day when they are 15% empty without charging, they will be free. For participating, after covering the cost of managing the system, the Town of Carrboro will provide some of the revenue received from pricing back to your business, and some of the revenue will go to the town to help fund access projects to downtown Carrboro, including Parking Signage and lighting, wayfinding, bike and sidewalk projects, and additional bus service.”

Once you have 10 spaces there, you approach another business- perhaps the lot owned by the folks who own the Clean Machine building. You add the Century Center Lot to the Public Parking District as well, running on the same rules. You keep going from business to business, and others will join. You will *FIND* additional parking it by freeing it from those private lots. Businesses who are open 9 to 5 can elect only to participate after 5:30 pm. Bars that open at 11 am can elect only to participate to 10:30 am.

This is going to cost orders of magnitude less than additional parking construction, and perhaps bring the Town and businesses revenue. It also means that someone in a minivan with 3 kids driving from Lake Hogan Farms who wants to park at 203 S Greensboro will *ALWAYS* find a space. That’s what pricing does. If you’re that parent, are you willing to pay $1.25 to have a convenient, easy place to park to take your kids into the library? If they can pay by smartphone app, the answer is definitely “YES.”

So let’s stop trying to site decks, and work on freeing private spaces by becoming the leader of a downtown Public Parking District, and invite private partners to join.

5.    In terms of the site layout Jim Spencer has created with the space to walk between the buildings, consider whether an upper floor connection for the levels above the ground makes sense. This could provide a sense of enclosure to the space and also make it easier for employees to move around.

6.    We’re trying to do economic development, right? Then this building should be five stories. The Level 3 floorplate should be replicated on Level 4, and again on a 5th level. We only have one downtown, and if we are tapering building height to transition to residents on the south side of Carr Street, we are literally reducing the economic capacity of Carrboro’s (population: 20k plus) most productive real estate to honor the theoretical aesthetic concerns of maybe 10-12 people. Folks who live next to downtown should be prepared for the buildings to get taller over time, and to their credit- those who spoke from the Carr Street neighborhood at the meeting seemed to understand this.


Written by

Filed under: Auto Traffic, Carrboro, Density, Economic Development, Libraries, Parking, Plans, Technology

One Response to "Comments for Second Public Hearing on Library Site at 203 S Greensboro St"

  1. Michael Adamson says:

    A major factor to consider with underground parking is that the first tier is cheap to build but as you dig deeper for lower tiers the construction costs rise dramatically. If the Town insists on having more than one tier, the additional tiers should be above ground. But above ground construction should be for people and not cars. So stick to one tier.

Leave a Reply