Parking surplus could be downtown's greatest asset


Call downtown Las Vegas the South Park of the Mojave, but in a good way.

Like the fictional Colorado cartoon town, Las Vegas has ample parking day and night, and that, according to city parking czar Brandy Stanley, could make it cheaper to create large developments, including a professional sports arena.

The parking surplus was included in Stanley's plan to consolidate the city's parking services in one department and leverage thousands of lightly used public and private spaces as an asset for future projects.

It was just one highlight in the report she delivered Wednesday to the City Council.

Others include a three-phase proposal to consolidate parking services into one department, upgrade parking meter technology and develop online tools to help drivers find spaces when they need them.

Stanley also said parking rates could increase for high-demand spaces like those around the Regional Justice Center and decrease or be eliminated in quieter areas where parking meters do little more than gather dust.

"It actually costs us more to replace the batteries every six months than the revenue from the meters," Stanley said of the quieter zones.

According to the parking inventory, there are about 47,500 spaces throughout downtown Las Vegas. The city owns or manages about 4,200, 9 percent, of the spaces.

About 15,300 are controlled by businesses such as downtown casinos or other governments but are considered available for public use. Around 28,000 spaces are in private use by employers or privately owned lots.

With peak demand on weekend nights topping out at about 30,000 spaces, it means downtown Las Vegas has about 38 percent more parking spaces than it needs.

That is an opportunity for developers to save millions of dollars on projects by avoiding the need to buy land and construct parking garages, which can cost $10 million to provide 500 spaces, Stanley said.

"It can be a make-or-break figure if you are looking to develop something downtown," she said.

She said it would be possible for a developer to build a professional sports venue, a goal of Mayor Carolyn Goodman, on the former brownfield that is being converted to Symphony Park without adding a new parking structure.

"There is a lot of parking inventory in the Symphony Park area, so it does make sense to do that," Stanley said.

She was formerly a parking official in Manchester, N.H., when the community built the approximately 10,000-seat Verizon Wireless Center without adding new parking.

In addition to describing the parking surplus, Stanley detailed the plans for consolidation of parking enforcement, facility maintenance, event parking, customer service and back office support under one roof in the Economic and Urban Development Office.

The move will consolidate 21 employees from several departments in a parking division managed by Stanley. The move also calls for filling another five vacant full- and part-time positions.

The Parking Division would be supported by revenue from the parking enterprise fund, which comes from parking fees and citations.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

 

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