An Ambitious Plan for Village Parking
The heart and soul of any vibrant center-city core is not parking. It’s traffic. Car traffic, pedestrian traffic, bicycle traffic — traffic begets vibrancy, sales, merchant success.
So we set to scratching our heads earlier this week when Pinehurst officials offered a solution to a problem that does not appear to exist in the village center.
To hear some tell it, the village center needs more parking. They talk of difficulty getting to shops in the center or the Given Memorial Library and Tufts Archives.
The village sought to “fix” this almost seven years ago with a deck between the Holly Inn and the Pine Crest Inn. Then, the deck was designed to stimulate development in “NewCore,” an industrial section adjacent to the core village.
The deck didn’t get built. “NewCore” is now called Village Place but still lacks a cohesive vision. And parking, from a practical standpoint, still isn’t a major concern for the village center.
Yet here comes the village again in proposing a two-tier parking deck on an existing lot behind the Holly Inn.
The Reality of the ‘Problem’
We laud village officials for trying to make something happen downtown. Their intentions are well-placed, if not the proposed outcome.
Really, how many times do you go into the village center on errands or for a meal, drive all over and fail to find a space within a block or two of your destination? Be honest. Almost never.
And if you do have to walk, it’s downtown Pinehurst, which is built pedestrian-friendly to begin with!
Some complain about having to park in the sand lot: It’s messy, uneven, poorly laid out. Well, the village is redoing the lot and improving it.
Village officials say that, based on the amount of retail space in the village center, industry standards call for 620 parking spaces. It is short that number now and, even after a deck is built and the sand lot is reworked and newly configured, the village will still have only 520 spaces.
Then there’s the math of the whole deal. The project cost of $2.7 million would result in a net gain of 68 spaces, or $39,705.88 per space. We’ve rarely met a parking space that costs more than the car in it, but we just might with this deal.
More Activity, Please
The village center might indeed one day have a parking problem, but what it needs first is more traffic. Village officials should be putting their energies toward fostering development in Village Place (nee NewCore) that gives people more reason to visit downtown.
Take your pick: an amphitheater for outdoor concerts, a minor-league baseball field (home of The Mulligans!) or a performing arts center.
An article on today’s front page tells of the village’s effort to recruit a new tenant — possibly another North Carolina microbrewery — for the old steam plant in Village Place now that Railhouse Brewery has pulled out of the project. That’s a great start, and we hope it comes to fruition.
This parking deck plan will provoke spirited debate, and we look forward to that. As part of that debate, let’s also talk about what makes downtowns so full of life, so full of potential.
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