July 2006
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Cat Logic: If we have too much, then we need more

In today’s installment of “Cat Logic,” we turn to Steve Tarter’s column in today’s business section of the Journal Star titled, “Destination Downtown.” I was unable to find it on the web for linking purposes, but here’s the gist of it:

Caterpillar Inc. hired Walker Parking Consultants (wow, a whole company dedicated to parking consulting — what a fascinating job that must be) to look at “a 13-block Downtown area that includes the former Sears block site for Caterpillar’s visitors center.”

Their findings? There’s a surplus of parking, and it’s anticipated that there will be a surplus of parking in the future:

In an area along the river bounded by Adams, Fayette and Harrison streets, consultants determined there were 5,011 parking spaces available with the highest use coming on a weekday morning when 64 percent of the spots were occupied. The lowest use came on a Saturday morning when only 15 percent of available parking was used.

Now, how would you, Average Joe, interpret those findings? If it were me (and I’m no high-paid executive or parking consultant), I would say we don’t need any additional parking created downtown. If, at the very busiest time of day less than 2/3 of the parking is being used, I’d say — we’ve got this problem licked. We’ve reached a saturation point; no more parking needed. Done.

What does Cat say?

Despite the finding, Caterpillar is looking for more parking at the location. “There’s a great deal of unused parking in that (Downtown) site. But Museum Square will depend on convenient parking of those visitors,” said Mark Johnson, Caterpillar’s project manager; referring to an underground parking garage that will add $3 million to the project cost while providing space for 189 cars.

Huh? Now, think about this a second. At the busiest time of any given week, not more than 64% of 5,011 spaces are being used. That means there are at least 1,804 spaces available within a 10-block area downtown at any given time. But Cat believes that the this site’s success will “depend on” having 189 more spaces (at about $15,873 per parking space) immediately on site. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say a Six Sigma black belt hasn’t been working on this project.

Incidentally, note the central location of Museum Square in the study area:

Downtown Parking Study Area

All the parking in the 10-block area — between 1,804 and 4,259 empty spaces at any given time — is within two blocks of Museum Square. In fact, the majority of it is within one block.  But according to Cat, that’s not good enough.

This is a colossal waste of money on top of an already flawed design for the Sears block. The Heart of Peoria Commission, which has been saying all along that we don’t need more parking downtown, has been vindicated by Cat’s own independent consultant’s study. But it doesn’t matter. Cat will continue on their present course, undeterred by the facts.

9 comments to Cat Logic: If we have too much, then we need more

  • Mahkno

    Consider this

    Go to any big box retailer and you will notice that on average no more than a third of the parking lot is ever used, yet the average american will still complain that there are no good parking places. Americans are incredibly lazy and infantile when in comes to parking. They will camp like a vulture, a spot closest to the store, while a few cars down, an array of empty spaces beckons. So what if there are thousands of spots down town. If the spot isn’t right in front of where they want to be, then it might as well not exist.

  • I was thinking about how Peorians are willing to park blocks away for events they really want to see — sporting events, broadway shows, etc. And I was thinking about how, even though there is parking on site at the Civic Center, their lot is often full for big events, causing patrons to have to park at least a block away.

    And then it hit me! Instead of actually building this $3 million parking deck, let’s just build a fake parking garage entrance on Museum Square, then put a sign in front of it that says “Lot Full.” Perhaps the whole parking situation is all psychological…. 🙂

  • cgiselle12

    Your logic works, CJ, in this back handed way as well. Maybe Cat already realizes that no one wants to see their museum, as the design they’re choosing is not one anyone here wants, so if the parking doesn’t make it a virtually drive-thru museum, no one will come. As sad as I am to have to say this…

  • Scott Creedy

    Hello again,

    Whats wrong with a little culture in Peoria? I love how CGISELLE put it “Maybe CAT already realizes no one wants to see THEIR museum…” Although the Regional museum and the CAT Visitor Center are not necessarily the same thing, it is funny how CAT does have its ‘nose’ into every aspect of the museum project. I used to think the museum was supposed to be OURS. Take a look at the current governing board of Lakeview. How many former CAT execs sit on it? Anyone know Rennie Atterburry III? The list goes on. This project has the stench of corporate greed and monument building about it. Can I be king for just one day?

  • Interested Party

    …also the City does not require parking to be provided in the downtown area. This is just pork parking.

  • Cory

    I find it hard to believe that parking downtown is busier during the day on a weekday than it is on a Friday or Saturday night.

  • cgiselle12

    I have to post this thought I had today (and I’m slamming myself a bit too). I was driving past that “Get Behind the New Zoo” billboard on N Knoxville and thought, Peoria didn’t seem to care much about whether or not there was a hazardous waste dump on the edge of town, and also doesn’t seem to care much about building a new zoo.
    Hence, Welcome to Peoria – we’re cool if there’s toxic waste in our backyard and don’t really care to fund a new zoo. Or museum.
    So I’m kinda regretting some of the railing I’ve been doing on blogs lately. This makes me sad, about myself. Wishing I’d think a little bit more before I type. Since my true love is theatre (I have two degrees in it). Dream job to be running my own theatre. SO I should be pretty all for things like museums and such. The zoo sort of fits in this category.
    To give myself a little credit – I worked my ass off against the landfill. And am still working to make sure PDC doesn’t win it’s appeal to the IL Pollution Control Board.
    Anyway, feeling conflicted – like any of you care… 🙂

  • Scott Creedy

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to see Peoria develop any of these projects. Most [if not all] of these blogs support a museum, zoo, etc. The problem is ‘politics as usual in Peoria.’ CAT and Lakeview board [excuse me…collaboration board], have laughed in the face of every community-based attempt to contribute to any of these projects. Having a museum would be a good thing. The design, content, opening hours…..on and on… these are not good things. The ‘museum board’ is a closed circle and any planning will take place without community consent. Don’t forget, the J. Star argued against giving the zoo anymore money, and we know where they stand on the museum.


  • homer

    The museum square is so anti-Duany… what can we do to stop its current design?