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Q&A with Brad Lacy: Parking problems

FUTURE OF DOWNTOWN DEPENDS ON A DECK

Posted: March 16, 2013 - 3:46pm
Conway Chamber CEO Brad Lacy speaks during the Annual Meeting Thursday at UCA. Lacy stated that the future of Conway development, especially downtown, will hinge on finding proper parking solutions. COURTNEY SPRADLIN STAFF PHOTO
Conway Chamber CEO Brad Lacy speaks during the Annual Meeting Thursday at UCA. Lacy stated that the future of Conway development, especially downtown, will hinge on finding proper parking solutions. COURTNEY SPRADLIN STAFF PHOTO

With a thriving downtown, complete with more businesses, more living areas, more dining and more entertainment, what people realize is that what Conway will need next — and what it may already need — is more parking. It is an issue that has not escaped the thoughts of Conway Chamber CEO Brad Lacy. He has called it the most important issue of 2013.

Log Cabin Democrat: Where do we stand at this point when it comes to planning for parking and traffic options in downtown as well as other parts of Conway?

Brad Lacy: With something as specific as a parking deck, you can make one of two mistakes. You can build too early or too late. Too early can mean a financial drain and an empty parking deck. Too late, and you could lose investment that would go to somewhere else. It’s not just relevant to downtown either. There are various spots of the city that will require a good hard look at structured parking options.

LCD: So we need to be concerned about other areas of the city?

BL: You see the community becoming denser and there are other areas that will benefit from structured parking. You are going to run out of land at some point. Now is the right time to deal with this.

LCD: What have you seen that brings you to this conclusion?

BL: If you just drive around and look, you see it’s a challenge. We know about new businesses in the area like Inuvo and Privacystar and their growth plans. Where will these employees park? What about other new businesses that are looking at this area. We do not want to force them to choose another option.

LCD: And then there is downtown housing.

BL: Yes. We have seen that there is a big desire for more housing downtown. But let’s say there is a 300-unit building. Those people are going to have cars.

LCD: So are we still at a dream phase or are we in an action phase?

BL: We need to identify the potential sites, and we have to pursue financial commitments as well as a plan to have policing from businesses. But we definitely need to be pushing forward with solutions at this point.

LCD: Are we committed to a deck or to decks? Is surface parking still an option?

BL: I don’t think you can just have surface. You won’t be able to see additional development. There could be the potential for a downtown hotel, but I am not sure the hotel would bring its own deck without some sort of cooperation.

LCD: What research has been done looking at other places to see what works and what doesn’t work?

BL: Actually, we spoke with Franklin, Tenn., and their parking is free. We also saw how Greenville, S.C. does it, and it’s paid. And they both work. We just need to find out what is right for Conway.

LCD: Who needs to be the first to step up and get the ball rolling?

BL: There needs to be a consortium of efforts, but I do think it must be led by the city. I just don’t see a private individual building a deck. I think potential development could possibly hinge on it, and once we’ve gotten past that point, the dominoes can begin to fall, and we will start to see a natural progression of future development.

LCD: Is there a spot that would be deemed right?

BL: There may not be a spot that’s perfect, but we need to remember that if it’s too far out from the core, we could lose a lot of potential users. We really need to be as close to the heart of Oak and Main for people to want to use it. Either way, this needs to be front and center in the coming year.

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Wild Turkey
73
Points
Wild Turkey 03/16/13 - 11:31 pm
1
2
Parking Problem

Finding parking spaces should not be that big of a problem. 1) Level the current City Hall and relocate to Perry County, say just this side of Fourche Junction. There's plenty of land and they should be able to get land at a good price. There would be no problem for the City Council to go into closed session and keep procedings secret. 2) Location # 2. On the balmy shoes of Lake Brewer.
Shuttles could be used to transport employees to and from work - Sorry, only one morning trip and one afternoon trip.
Same solution for C of C - leveling building to free up parking space once their building is built near Fourche Junction or Lake Brewer.
Similar solutions could be suggested for other branches of Conway City Gov. that masquerade as businesses. Sooner and with little or no negative environmental consequences.
No new taxes for shuttle - fees (non-refundable) will be deducted from employee pay.
Problem solved.

Fireman
652
Points
Fireman 03/17/13 - 09:10 am
5
2
We don't need a parking deck.

it would be a sore sight for a downtown that everyone is trying to make charming and desirable. Parking is available. No you may not get a spot right in front of where you want to be, but it's there. We could all use a few more steps of calorie burning. A surface level lot is more than fine for future planning stages.

188fw_flyngRzrbk
1844
Points
188fw_flyngRzrbk 03/17/13 - 05:07 pm
2
0
Exactly.

There is plenty of parking available downtown. With the exception of a few times per year (TS Days, parades, etc), there is never a time when parking is not available within a few steps of any location downtown. A parking deck will concentrate abundant parking in a single location (at a huge expense), and will only truly benefit a few businesses.

This is nothing more than community leaders searching for a way to blow money. It is not the time to be spending on wasteful and unneeded infrastructure. A parking structure would NEVER generate enough money to pay the bonds, and the taxpayers would be left holding the bag. Someone please go downtown and yank some heads out of some keisters - it is sorely needed.

sevenof400
7003
Points
sevenof400 03/17/13 - 06:49 pm
3
1
And blow money they do...

...by the wad on the downtown area.

If the downtown stores were worthwhile, people would come.

arkansasobserver
3324
Points
arkansasobserver 03/18/13 - 08:08 am
0
0
What's that?

Is that a scuff-mark under his chin?
Seriously.

Igor Rabinowitz
9263
Points
Igor Rabinowitz 03/18/13 - 09:06 am
3
0
I'm okay with this

How many downtowns in cities Conway's size have turned ghost town as everything moved out when WalMart moved in?

Yet despite two WM's, and a WM Lite being built now, a mall on a third side of town, Conway's downtown remains vibrant. That's not marketing hype, that's a fact: Vibrant, with businesses, restaurants, shops, on and on. From early morning on into the night there's something going on in downtown Conway.

And say what you will, but "something going on" means "tax revenues." It also means "people coming and going" which obviously means cars, all over the place.

And hey, this is the same group which has done such an outstanding job keeping Conway's downtown (Conway's tax revenue) vibrant, and they're pointing toward a parking deck. I got to respect who's saying that. I got to respect how they've not only done a good job so far, but how they've made vibrancy management such a focus of their job. This isn't some guys shooting from the hip (Internets LOL) but people who study these things.

And, again, I got to respect that.

They want a parking deck, then we need to give a parking deck very serious consideration. They've been right about everything else.

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