467 metered parking spaces proposed for N. Fourth Avenue in Tucson

Parking garages also envisioned at either end of shop district
2013-08-11T00:00:00Z 2013-08-11T16:40:57Z 467 metered parking spaces proposed for N. Fourth Avenue in TucsonJoe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The city could install as many as 467 metered parking spaces on or near North Fourth Avenue next year.

A consultant working for Parkwise recommends Tucson install 245 one- to two-hour parking spaces along Fourth Avenue between Second Street and Ninth Street, with an additional 209 unrestricted parking spaces, mostly along some side streets.

Additionally, the 44-page report identifies four potential sites to build a parking garage, three sites close to O'Malleys on Fourth, near the south end of the Fourth Avenue shopping and entertainment district. The other site is behind Trinity Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Fourth Avenue and University Avenue.

Parking consultant Desman Associates prepared the report, which is currently under review by a number of business groups and nearby neighborhood associations. The consultant did a block-by-block assessment in April to help determine parking trends along Fourth Avenue as well as adjoining areas not currently covered by an established parking district.

In the first year of operation, the new meters are estimated to generate $317,100, the consultant estimated. The $679 per-meter figure is based on a $1-an-hour rate - twice the rate of downtown meters, which generated $567 each last year.

The consultant suggested the revenue projection of $317,100 is actually a conservative estimate.

"The 4th Avenue meters could very realistically generate two times more revenue than the downtown meters given the increased hours of enforcement and a 100% higher hourly rate," the consultant wrote.

Donovan Durband, the city's ParkWise administrator, cautioned on Friday that the report is still under review, and adopted plans for parking could change after feedback from outside groups and responses to the city's call for proposals to build and maintain the parking meters as well as the direction given by the City Council.

Durband said he plans to continue meeting with neighborhood groups for several more weeks before going before the council later this year. Currently, the meters are scheduled for installation in the first half of 2014.

The consultant's report also suggests the city consider a number of financing mechanisms, mentioning federal grants, general-obligation and revenue bonds, tax-increment financing, certificates of participation and business-improvement districts, as well as possible public-private partnerships.

The Centro Garage was mentioned in the report as "a very good example" of a city-developed parking solution, where the city built the garage, and sold the ground-floor commercial space and rights above the parking to a developer for housing.

"Parking is an essential service that is not always provided by the private sector, generally because it is not financially feasible," the consultant wrote.

"The provision of parking by the public sector has no doubt contributed to economic development in Tucson in recent years; and it is equally clear that economic conditions in the 4th Avenue Business District will continue to improve with ongoing assistance from the public sector."

Donna DiFiore, the owner of Delectables restaurant, supports meters on Fourth Avenue as well as building parking garages.

After nearly 40 years on Fourth Avenue, DiFiore said parking has been a problem for decades. She sees on-street hourly parking as a good solution to keep spaces available along Fourth Avenue for shoppers, while employees park in garages or unrestricted spaces farther away from the avenue.

While the proposed sites for the garage anchor the north and south ends of the Fourth Avenue shopping district, DiFiore thinks they both have potential to draw those willing to walk a little farther for a parking space - most notably employees.

"I hope they build two (garages)," she said.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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