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March 18, 2011



The problem is that some people think that they are at a chain store in a strip mall, and pretend to park at the door of the place they are going to eat in. If you are not scared of walking two or three blocks I've never had problems parking downtown.

There could be some signs though, pointing to the large parking lots and parking decks for the people who do not know where they are.


Maybe we can bring Taste of Durham back downtown where it belongs? Give people a reason to come downtown to discover all the new restaurants opening there?


I'm surprised that you're really considering this expansion of businesses downtown as a problem. Here's my opinion...

- We are nowhere near an amount of too many businesses. Look at the downtowns of Asheville, Wilmington, Richmond, and charleston. Way more dense and active. Of course some of those have tourism aspects..however so would we if we created an attractive vibrant downtown. People from the region would continue to stream in for visits (just like they do for Bulls games and DPAC shows)

- Yes, parking will be more of an issue. But people who live close by need to walk, bike and take the bus more. I live .75 miles from downtown and watch my neighbors drive to work and entertainment every single day. We don't have an urban mentality in that sense.

- Also, there are many underutilized parking decks. Visitors need to know that they may need to park in a deck and then actually need to walk a few more blocks to their destination. That's totally acceptable.

Matt Dudek

It would be great to see more apartment buildings come online soon to provide more customers for downtown, and more people within walking distance. The Chesterfield will hopefully open soon-ish, and Morris Ridge is planned, but does it have a start date?

Seth Vidal

The bike parking situation in downtown is in pretty good shape.

Thanks to Dale Mckeel for making sure there are bunches of racks.

Steve Graff

I agree that parking isn't a problem, but it can be a perceived problem because of the lack of on-street parking. We do need to install directional signs that point towards the various available parking decks.

I'd also like to see the parking decks accept payment options beyond cash and check (check? Who the hell pays with checks anymore?). I found myself in the embarrassing situation of parking in a parking structure, then finding that I had no cash in my wallet. I ended up scrounging up 85 cents to give to the parking attendant to pay my $1 parking toll, which she kindly accepted as payment in full. Accepting debit cards would seem to be a good idea.

Rob Gillespie

Re: Parking decks after hours

Haven't all four decks starting charging after hours now? There's a convenient little credit-card machine at the exit of each. The last time I was in the Durham Centre garage, we had to pay $3 to exit after hours.


Raleigh's big decks are free on weekend nights. Smart move I think.


The Bull City Connector definitely has the potential to be an extremely convenient and valuable way to get to and from downtown.

I say 'potential', because my own experience with it has been a little uneven at this point. I personally think that either 1) the timing of the busses needs to be more predicatable (i.e., it leaves the terminals and Durham Station when it is supposed to), or 2) the headways need to get shorter, so the schedule doesn't matter as much. (Preferably both).

I, for one, think we're nowhere near saturation on food options downtown, and getting the Connector to run a little more reliably would get me down there even more frequently.

Eric Heidt


Really, parking is not a problem.

Every time, I try to go downtown, I always find a parking space.

Look at Chapel Hill/Carborro, does the lack of parking spaces make the downtowns of the two communities unwelcoming? No, to the contrary. People love going out over there. People love it so much that they are keeping adding new high rises on Franklin St.

Chuck Watts


Gotta say . . . YOGI BERRA??? . . . he wan't even a smart baseball player . . . certainly no philosopher of urban development. Oh . . . maybe you were just being facetious.

The problem is two fold. First, DDI & the Parrish Street Advocacy Group & the City's OEWD promoted a study by a consultant, of which I know that you are aware, entitled Downtown City Center District -- Creating an Environment for Retail that really provides some well researched and knowledgeable information on the Yogi Berraism and show why its pretty simple minded, as you would expect. So I worry that folks haven't taken advantage of that information.

The other problem is that I have heard at least one city council member echo the same sort of simple minded concern. Most of the comments here however seem to echo the more informed perspective that was offered by the study so maybe it is more well received than I thought.

One of the most straight forward points of the study showed that we don't have enough office and residential downtown yet to support most categories of retail. It is part of why the hotel project would be great for downtown, but Food and beverage is a very important category of development for downtown because that category tends to have a wider trade area -- folks will drive into the area for food, particularly a unique quality food establishment like what's be popping up in downtown, than they will for most types of retail. Further, this trade area is even broader where there is a cluster of food and beverage establishments. So this stage in the development of downtown is key to us getting to the point where more folks live or work downtown. When that happens we are likely to see more diversity in the composition of retail in downtown.

The other thing that the study really highlights that folks need to read is the history of how we got a downtown that has only 33% of its retail space being used as retail. That story is all about public policy errors. We need to learn from those errors and avoid them going forward. The Yogi worry would be one to avoid.

Basically, we need density downtown, we need transit options and biking options to support that density, we need rail transit to orient that density toward sustainable growth and the food & beverage sector's growth and development is a phase of that transition. Of course, there is plenty to work on as we move in that direction but from a broad perspective these new restaurants are great additions and we should all be hoping to see more.


Are there 24-hour security guards in decks and security cameras in elevators? If not, there should be. Maybe there could be some centralized downtown "parking escort" or delivery services carts that will escort people to parking decks (golf carts maybe--like the little carts driving between terminals in airports). I won't park in a parking deck after dark--unless I'm going to an event where there's lots of traffic in the deck--a scheduled performance at the Carolina or something--so I know there will be lots of traffic in the deck when I'm coming and going. Its not a money issue--its a safety issue. Maybe this is more of a gender issue--although I know that it isn't just women attacked in parking garages.

Jonathan Parker

Downtown Durham is nowhere close to having a parking problem. The parking "issue" is all perception and zero reality, a byproduct of the suburban-oriented mentality of most residents in Durham and, truth be told, most of the country. 'There's not enough parking in Downtown Durham' roughly translates to 'there's not a "free" suburban style parking lot in front of my destination.' Furthermore, most (all?) of the on-street parking downtown is hourly parking and not priced, so much of the parking is effectively free and poorly managed, even while the decks aren't. This is not an efficient way to manage parking because people (often the employees of the retail stores) will always choose the more convenient, "free" on-street spaces to avoid paying for parking in the decks (which cost a pretty penny to build), and creates an incentive for violators who simply move their cars around to avoid the 2/3-hour limits, and taking up the most valuable urban street spaces for short term visitors who want to patronize the local storefront shops, which is the intent of on-street parking in the first place.

At some point (and we're probably getting closer), the on-street parking will become crowded as more local retail shops open up and increase activity in the core, and some businesses will complain that not enough on-street spaces are being freed up for patrons. Then the city will have to consider pricing--thereby freeing up those most valuable spaces--and in so doing creating a strong economic incentive for the long term/all-day violators to park in the decks, where they should be parking in the first place. Of course, this idea will initially prove unpopular in some quarters, as some (not all) businesses and residents will complain that eliminating "free" parking will kill downtown, but eventually, pricing will be implemented (like pretty much every other popular urban area in the world), and provided the price fits the market demand, it will work as intended and downtown will continue to thrive.

Downtowns and walkable urban areas like Durham all across the country are experiencing a renaissance because more and more people are tired of the suburban experience and want to be a part of places that are diverse, vibrant, and unique. We need to understand that the downtown core, Ninth Street, Brightleaf, and American Tobacco are special, and in increasingly high demand. Why? Precisely because they offer a completely different experience than the suburbs. So let's not continue the failed model of trying to "suburbanize" our great urban places, when that's not what makes them successful, nor what people want.


jesus j. parker, you expect people to read that?

socrates just ordered a second shot of hemlock.

huge ugly parking decks all over. the idea that parking is limited a condemnation of the accommodation of cars, and of the aesthetic imperative of civilization.

Danny S

Right on, Chuck Watts. More restaurants are exactly what we need downtown at this stage.

Here's a link to the study he mentioned

Jonathan Parker

^^ What can I say, brevity isn't always my strong suit. :-)


Three things:

1) "A Taste of Durham" already IS downtown, in the form of Toast, Beyu Caffe, Piedmont, Revolution, Dos Perros, etc., etc. Come on down!

2) I echo the kudos to Dale McKeel for adding more bike racks. Word has it that he has several dozen more racks awaiting sites to install them. If you know of a good spot for one, drop him an email message! Or just post a comment here -- I'm pretty sure Dale reads BCR regularly.

3) Ummmm... I love Durham too, but does this post qualify as a bit of a "humble brag"?:

Doug Roach

Street cars.

Efficient for the future?
No doubt.


It would be nice to see trollies around downtown!!! You can just park in any of the decks and a trolly is guaranteed to pick you up soon after...Just charge a buck and they can just stay in the downtown area! They would do very well in special events...

Air Jordan Femmes

He is a good friend that speaks well of us behind our backs.

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