Parking is always a hot topic here in the Downtown Indy, Inc. offices. Downtown visitors want parking to be cheap (read: free!) and convenient. Downtown residents want parking near their homes available for their guests. Mass Ave and surrounding neighborhoods feel the pinch of visitors seeking free parking, as employees and visitors take up street parking in residential areas first.
These concerns, among others, prompted Downtown Indy, Inc. and the City of Indianapolis to conduct a parking study for the eastside of Downtown. The three districts studied were Mass Ave, Market East and Fountain Square. The study concluded that, for the time being, there is enough parking in all three districts for any normal day or evening. In Mass Ave., for example, on a typical weekday, only 49 percent of about 8,500 spaces available are taken. On Saturday night, 37 percent of the spaces are filled. This equates to about 5,000 empty spots.
However, future development, coupled with increased demand will likely cause parking to grow tight in Mass Ave and Market East in about three years. Unless developers include parking in their projects, the supply of parking will decrease, as surface lots get developed.
While the study does recommend the construction of parking facilities in the future, it also has recommendations to make the most of the parking that is available now. Downtown Indy, Inc. and the City are working together to determine which options to pursue. Possibilities include developing an app that provides real-time parking availability, installing new wayfinding signs to direct drivers to existing parking facilities and working with private land owners to open their lots up to public use in the evenings or on weekends.
In the meantime, here are the top 10 ways Downtown Indy visitors can help ease the parking situation:
1. Ride the bus! I realize the bus isn’t an option for everyone as it doesn’t run late enough into the night.
2. Vote yes in the transit referendum in November.
3. Take an Uber, Lyft or taxi. This is door-to-door service… what could be better?
4. Try Blue Indy. You get guaranteed parking, possibly right in front of your locale of choice.
5. Ride your bike. Make sure your light works for your ride home. No bike? No worries! There are 26 Pacers Bikeshare stations in convenient locations throughout Downtown.
6. Pay for convenience. Some Mass Ave establishments offer valet parking.
7. Instead of meeting at the restaurant, pick your friends up on the way in.
8. Scope out parking before you head down. Visit our website to view a map of all parking options near your destination.
9. Instead of trying to hunt down that perfect metered spot on Mass Ave, park in a nearby public lot or garage. One great option: head straight for the Pulliam Square Garage.
10. Remember, you are visiting an urban neighborhood. Land isn’t cheap. Parking shouldn’t be either.
I am a Downtown employee and an Irvington resident. When I come Downtown, driving my car is always my last choice. I commute daily by bus or bicycle. If I’m going out Downtown on a Saturday night, I take the bus or Blue Indy and an Uber home. Yes, it takes a little more work to get Downtown using means other than a personal vehicle, but it’s less stressful and more interesting than driving. And I never have to worry about finding a parking spot.