The process toward determining the need for a parking structure is complex, but critical. The following are some best practices for identifying a parking problem, and developing a successful solution:
1) Parking Study
Engage a third party to “right size” the parking supply to validate the need for additional parking, either surface or structured. A successful parking study will assess the current parking situation, as well as build a demand model tailored to the area, specifically related to future plans for growth. A parking study will take into account where parking demand is the greatest, when it is the greatest, what user groups most affect and are affected by parking and, in some cases, suggest that parking management initiatives might be the smartest and most cost effective way of solving current parking problems.
2) Site Feasibility Analysis
If the parking study establishes the need for additional parking supply, the next best step is to determine where it should be located. The siting of a parking garage needs to complement the master plan, particularly to reduce vehicular/pedestrian conflicts, reduce traffic congestion, and most importantly to complement the long term growth of the campus, neighborhood, or development.
3) Engage a Parking Consultant
Garage design starts on the inside, where the consultant either leads or supports the team in creating functional designs that meet the program with respect to an acceptable level of service, efficient, yet comfortable design, intuitive design and most importantly, affordable design. An experienced parking consultant is also able to marry the functional design and the structural design so that the right balance is achieved for user comfort and, operational success and structural economy.