2006-12-26, 11:40

A parking dilemma

By: Jonathan Groner
Last week, CPN (Commercial Property News) co-sponsored the Mixed-Use Summit conference in Dallas, which was attended by real estate developers, planners, architects, attorneys, and others. Here is a brief report from CPN about the major concerns expressed at the conference. Parking issues and the need for green space topped the list.

Traditional shopping malls, especially those built when land was cheap, provide seemingly limitless parking lots, at the cost of sprawl and ugliness. Traditional old downtowns rely on mass transit and even on shoppers who walk. Mixed-use projects can't simply adopt either alternative. That's why mixed use is often coupled with transit-oriented development.

Parking, Open Spaces Top Mixed-Use Concerns

December 19, 2006
By Russ Colchamiro, Executive Editor

Mixed-use projects of various locations, sizes and configurations are springing up all over the country, with many more to come. But with the increased demand for these multi-purpose developments comes their own set of issues, noted industry experts who spoke yesterday on the opening leaders panel at CPN's 2006 Mixed-Use Summit in Dallas. Most notable, they said, is figuring out how to accommodate a mixed-use project's complicated parking needs, as well as proving ample community green space that helps draw visitors.

"The problem is always parking," said Steve Janeway, senior vice president & director of design with Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum Inc. "You have to solve that problem first." Moderator Randy Morton, partner with Cooper, Robertson & Partners, agreed. "Every project we build revolves around parking."

Dary Stone, vice chairman of Cousins Properties, cited the Glory Park project in Arlington, Texas, as an example. The under-construction mixed-use community is being developed on the eastern section between Dallas and Fort Worth, with the area's existing Six Flags and Texas Rangers baseball stadium, and the new, forthcoming Dallas Cowboys stadium, among other attractions, drawing massive crowds with their own parking demands. "We've got to make sure that our shared parking ... works. It's nice and warm and fuzzy to say that you want to bring people together," Stone said, but he was quick to note that the transportation and parking system has to accommodate each location individually as well as that of the combined area, especially as multiple events will often be ongoing simultaneously.

Another key issue with mixed-use projects, the panelists said, is green space. They noted that among the various property types, the community spaces where people can congregate comfortably is what brings the entire project together. "America is rediscovering urbanism," Janeway said. "The green space is often the connective tissue . . . that really makes it work." He contended that without attention to issues such as landscaping, shaded areas and water sources, urban mixed-use projects would be unsuccessful.


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