Today's Question: Is a proposed parking garage right for downtown?

Thursday, April 23, 2009 | 10:26 a.m. CDT; updated 11:29 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 23, 2009

On Monday, the City Council approved an ordinance to build a parking garage on Fifth and Walnut streets. The council is trying to eliminate more surface parking and create more parking spaces as the downtown area grows.

"We're hoping that by building this garage, that in effect, we'll be making areas available for building," Mayor Darwin Hindman said. "This enables us to concentrate retail in the downtown area, which is good for downtown."

The parking garage is proposed to be eight or nine stories tall and leaves the lower levels for retail space and police parking. Sixth Ward councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said she was in favor of the lower-level retail space.

"Parking garages with nothing but parking on the bottom level can make it a disconnected space for pedestrians and people in general," Hoppe said.

The height and size of the structure has raised some concerns on how it will affect the look of downtown. Third Ward City Councilman Karl Skala proposed the garage would look "indigenous" with cascading plants headed down the sides of the garage. The Commission for Public Art will assist with the design process of the building.

Hoppe hoped that this would be the last measure for parking the City Council would need to pass. In the future, she hopes that public transportation will offset the need for parking.

Will the height of the garage disturb the beauty of the downtown aesthetic? Do you think the parking garage is necessary for the growth of downtown?

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