Creative parking structures

parking2

I pulled the above diagram from the West Don Lands Precinct Plan.

The redevelopment of the Carlisle Street parking garage (Google Maps) in St Catharines presents an opportunity to transform that unfriendly stretch of Carlisle between St Paul and Chuch.

The city seems to be getting by with the garage already downsized – the structure is crumbling and in places unsafe. When it is rebuilt, could we do without a few dozen spaces? This would free up funds and the physical space to do some serious city-building at street level and on the roof.

Instead of the brutal concrete face we’re presented with today, the diagram shows the buildings meeting the street with what is probably retail. Aside from what is necessary for cars to access it, the garage is hidden from the street. Whatever roof area isn’t built upon becomes a public space – a park, for example. In addition to the new structure, traffic (including buses, which access the terminal mid-block) needs to be slowed down along Carlisle if it is to be people-friendly.

A big selling-point for the people who do the deciding could be that, depending on who or what occupies the building, the city might be able to rent out the space or get assistance from other governments to finance the construction. With regard to the latter, I’m thinking in particular of the Niagara Regional Police (hands off, Niagara Falls).

I trust the present council to do more than give us a utilitarian slab when the present garage finally comes down; it will at least have street-level retail like the Ontario Street garage. I do worry that financial concerns will result in half-measures. St Catharines has no more room to grow out, so we need to grow up right.

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