7 Benefits to Consider for the Proposed Parking Garage
On November 6, Montpelier residents will have the opportunity to vote for a proposed public parking garage. The City has conducted several public meetings over the past few months and the community has asked important questions about the cost, size, and design of the parking garage.
While digging into the details, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and the project’s significance for Montpelier. Below are seven benefits Montpelierites should consider before they cast their vote on November 6.
1. More Parking Downtown
This one seems obvious, yet nearly a dozen parking studies conducted by the City over the past 30 years have identified the need for more parking. The proposed parking garage is the first significant project to address the City’s parking needs. The situation may best be summarized by Bob Watson, owner of Capitol Grounds Café:
I have served on various boards and committees over the past 25 years. Parking has been a topic of discussion for all of that time and is a perennial issue in the downtown. We are at the point where we have an opportunity to make it happen.
The proposed garage would add 160 net new parking spaces to Montpelier – increasing downtown parking by 26 percent. This is a substantial increase considering the parking necessary to accommodate the thousands of people driving into Montpelier daily to work or visit.
2. Accommodating visitors from near and far
A parking garage offers an easily accessible destination downtown, as opposed to the hunt for an available space along the street or in one of the City’s permitted lots.
During the August 22 City Council meeting, Councilor Rosie Kreuger shared,
The only reason I ever go to Burlington is because I know I can park in a parking garage on Church Street and I then don’t have to deal with driving around to find parking. I started thinking about that for Montpelier. There are people who don’t come to Montpelier because parking is a pain. If there were a garage where they could park, they would come to Montpelier.
The proposed public parking garage can accommodate a proportion of Montpelier’s day-time employees, tourists visiting from afar, and local patrons seeking parking while they dine, shop, or partake in events downtown.
3. 30,000 additional visitors to Montpelier each year
The proposed garage will support a new 80-room hotel. The hotel is estimated to attract 30,000 visitors to Montpelier annually. Those visitors translate to 30,000 people walking downtown, exploring local shops, and eating at Montpelier restaurants.
This is a significant opportunity for the dozens of small, locally-owned businesses in Montpelier. As Eric Bigglestone, Montpelier resident and owner of Capitol Stationers put it,
The possibility of an additional 80-100 people enjoying our downtown on any given night benefits not just the hotel, but also the shops, restaurants and events that happen in our city. We have a great little city and passionate folks who work hard at keeping it so.
4. Hosting more conferences and events
Several events have been turned away from Montpelier due to the lack of available accommodations. A new hotel opens new opportunities for Montpelier to host cultural events and conferences..
At the end of July, Montpelier Alive announced the City would host the 2019 New England Foundation for the Arts’ Creative Communities Exchange. This event recognizes the importance of the creative economy in Montpelier. Through the competitive bidding process, Montpelier learned its shortage of hotel rooms was a major concern and potential barrier to Montpelier hosting the event. Conferences and events bring visitors to Montpelier and positive attention to our downtown. Sufficient hotel rooms – and convenient parking – are critical to event organizers.
5. Improved use of downtown property
Significant development is underway or proposed for a block where only the Capitol Plaza Hotel and surface parking currently reside. There will soon be a new transit center and affordable housing at 1 Taylor Street, a recreation path, and a park that provides access to the river.
With a proposed garage that meets the needs of Capitol Plaza and the proposed Hampton Inn and Suites, a currently underutilized City block will be transformed into a denser mix of uses. It sets a precedent for redevelopment in the downtown and the higher utilization of City properties.
6. The Grand List grows, taxes don’t
By utilizing the City’s new Tax Increment Financing Tool and parking revenues to pay for the public garage, property taxes won’t increase to pay for the garage. On the flip side, the parking garage enables private development that will add to the City’s Grand List.
The incremental tax revenue generated by the new hotel will go towards paying back the bond over 20 years. After 20 years, those tax revenues will be redirected to the Education Fund and the City's General Fund.
7. Other meaningful projects supported
The City will be able to shift several spaces from the 1 Taylor Street Transit Center parking lot to the parking garage, providing additional green space for Confluence Park, a park formally created by City Council on August 22 and spearheaded by the Vermont River Conservancy.
The parking garage will also accommodate parking for a new affordable housing development being considered by Christ Church. The housing development will add much-needed housing to Montpelier and support a trend for denser, smarter downtown development.
Update details and information about the parking garage are available on the Public Parking Garage project page. I encourage the public to learn about the garage and consider the benefits such a project has on the future of Montpelier when voting on November 6.