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Eco Park Columbus: A Sustainable Solution to Parking

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Development Eco Park Columbus: A Sustainable Solution to Parking

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    My name is Mike Tartaglia. I am a City and Regional Planning major at Ohio State. Recently I completed a video project about the development of sustainable parking facilities in Columbus. Check out my video and see why I believe this would help the city. Let me know what you think and share some of your ideas. Maybe our discussions will spark the necessary change needed to solve the downtown parking problem and revitalize the city of Columbus.

    Join my Facebook group:(Eco Park Columbus: A Sustainable Solution to Parking)


    Subscribe to my YouTube channel:(EcoParkColumbus) http://www.youtube.com/user/EcoParkColumbus

    One of the major planning issues facing the city of Columbus is parking. Currently in the downtown area nearly half of all available parking is in the form of surface lots. In total there are approximately 233 acres of surface space dedicated to the sole purpose of storing automobiles. This space represents 24% of downtown Columbus total developable land. These surface lots are a liability to the city as they are non-productive, they decrease density, and they create empty pockets of space in the downtown area. The construction of new parking facilities would clear land and make space available for development that will increase productive land, increase density, and enliven the downtown core.

    Parking garages are a fundamental necessity to North Americas highly urbanized and auto-dependent culture. Overtime the design of parking facilities has been reduced to minimal structures that show no signs of concern to aesthetics or integration. What has resulted is parking garages that ignore their urban context and provide nothing more than a place to store cars.

    If the vision of downtown Columbus is to be a place where people can live, work, and play than a parking facility should contribute to that vision. Newer garages in Columbus have shown signs of improvement, but it is important to point out that simple façade enhancement and better material choices does not disguise the fact that they provide nothing more than parking. The realization of a parking garages true potential must be realized. Thus these structures should be designed to address the role they play as gateways to our cities, and enhance our urban fabric rather than become an afterthought.

    The Eco Park is a practice in good parking design which envisions a more complex, aesthetic, sustainable and integrated parking structure. It represents my vision of what a parking garage could be and how it can contribute to the overall improvement of urban life.

    Mixed-Use Design

    – street level stores, shops, boutiques, restaurants, or offices

    Natural Design Elements

    – rooftop garden or park

    – landscaping

    Open Design

    – increased natural light

    – increased natural ventilation

    Green Innovations

    – solar canopies / panels

    – water collection systems

    – green walls

    – LED lighting

    – high efficiency equipment

    – electric vehicle charging stations

    – recycle stations

    – recycled building material

    – pervious paving materials

    Improved Safety and Accessibility

    – emergency points

    – clear exit points

    – non-slip surfaces

    Improved Layout

    – centralized organization

    – more efficient circulation

    Concern for Alternative Transportation

    – bicycle parking storage

    – links to public transit

    Architectural Design

    – modern design

    – less rigid form

    – unique material palette

    – introduce public art



    Jason Powell
    Jason Powell

    and all we have gotten so far is the unimaginative crap they threw up on 4th and Front.


    Seriously awesome.

    Now with your copious free time (ha!) let’s see some specific renderings of facilities in Columbus.


    There are a few garages that are well integrated (North Bank Condo’s garage; the Neighborhood Launch garage; presumably the incoming Short North Boutique Hotel garage); but they could use a touch like yours. Or at least some fresh ideas.



    Good idea, but such designs have been publicized to city officials and no one wants to spend the $$$ for those as evidenced in the case of the plain ones on Front and 4th St. There is neither public or private money that anyone is willing to spend on these even though they’d be much better than the ones we currently have. In fact, the new ones were only going to be built if the city was going to pitch in the money; the private sector didn’t want to have to pay the full cost of a cheap (for parking garages) no-frills garage.

    Another fact is that you don’t overcome an auto-dependent culture by giving as much of Downtown to parking, flat or stacked, to change that culture. Aiding existing counter-car cultures by encouraging more cyclists, scooterists, pedestrians, etc, should be a part of any plan to reduce parking lots, which can’t be replaced even if all of them were converted to garages according to MSI who’s handling the Downtown 2010 plan.

    From a motorist’s perspective I found Downtown frustrating when I was car-dependent whether it was circling around for on-street parking rather than research garage prices, carrying correct change (Downtown residents don’t get a discount), and you’re sure to eventually get a hefty ticket for something, like parking in front of an unusable (for modern cars), historic narrow driveway for model Ts or buggies. Now I have a much more positive experience with Downtown as a cyclist and pedestrian; I’d rather not have to drive Downtown again after doing both. Also, I forget which thread it’s in, but there was a study showing that motorists generally do not use upper levels of pakring garages even if there’s plenty of spaces.



    I understand that recent proposals have been turned down because of the cost. However, I don’t believe that means we should just say that it will never happen. In time the right person or group might come along and provide the necessary funds. Other cities around the country such as Santa Monica and Chicago have developed these facilities with the aid of private investors so the same could happen in Columbus. This may not be in the immediate future but as Columbus continues to grow I think there will be more opportunities.

    I also never suggested that this would overcome or cure auto-dependent culture. I completely agree that to do so we need to encourage cyclists, scooters, walkability and public transit. Parking facilities can begin to make this happen by supplying parking space for bikes and scooters. When it comes to public transit and walking Columbus needs greater density to support these modes of transportation. But much of Columbus is wasted by surface lots. You’re completely right new garages will never replace all the spaces but they would however make room for new development that can encourage walkability. Unfortunately the period we live in is dominated by cars and we will continue to need spaces to store them in the mean time. That being said the city could at the very least look at improving the existing facilities by enhancing there aesthetic appeal and making any new facilities mixed use with rooftop gardens or parks (which would effectively utilize the the unused upper levels as you said). A sustainable garage doesn’t need all the fancy gadgets or amenities that I listed but any combination of them would go a long way in improving these structures.


    Very impressive. I’d love to see some renderings too :)

    I am curious to know how many people would pay more to park in an Eco Garage than in a “conventional” garage. Personally I’d be glad to shell out extra dollars – even double – to park in a place that I knew was doing something to offset my motorism. What does everyone else think?



    Take for example the new RiverSouth Parking Garage by the new courthouse. According to the downtown Columbus website the daily rates are:

    Daily Rates
    0-1 hour = $2.00
    1-2 hours = $4.00
    2-3 hours = $5.00
    3-4 hours = $6.00
    4-5 hours = $8.00
    5-12 hours = $10.00
    12-24 hours = $12.00

    For the new Civic Center Parking Garage in Santa Monica, which is the first LEED certified parking structure in the country, the rates are:

    $1.60 each 20 minutes, with an $8.00 daily maximum.

    Considering most people park there cars in garages for several hours, this rates are very comparable.



    I would never have guessed that a LEED certified garage on the west coast would cost less than a standard one here. Maybe there’s a high amount of turnaround there because of it’s proximity to surrounding amenities? You’d probably know the answers to that better than I do. I’d imagine motorists here would overwhelmingly prefer a green garage if the costs were the same as those listed above.



    I thought the same thing about the turnaround as a result of surrounding amenities. But, actually from what discussions I’ve seen about the Santa Monica garage many people say that it is a bit isolated and a bit far from many amenities at the moment.

    This garage was more expensive to build because of its added features. But things such as solar panels, water collection systems, and increased natural light and ventilation go a long way in reducing operating and maintenance costs. By supplying its own power and reducing the need for artificial lighting, drainage, and mechanical systems these facilities effectively work to pay for themselves. Also consider that in the future the price for these technologies will decrease and building costs will go down. As a result parking rates don’t have to be astronomical, as we see in the case of Santa Monica.

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