Prime parking

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The garage, on the 300 block of Coeur d’Alene Avenue, provides a convenient parking option to downtown workers. (LOREN BENOIT/Press)

Study affirmed need for more spaces

A 2016 parking study commissioned by the city of Coeur d’Alene found a 221-space parking deficit downtown during peak times. The study considered the 22-block central business district as downtown.

Rich & Associates Inc., a consultancy, said the deficit would grow to 290 spaces in five years and a 360-space shortfall in 10 years.

At the time, the consultants said the parking structure would serve as an economic development tool and incentive to secure developments in the downtown, adding, “this is not a ‘build it and they will come’ approach. There is a clear need for additional parking.”

By KEITH ERICKSON

Press Correspondent

When Phil Boyd was considering moving his thriving engineering business to downtown Coeur d’Alene several years ago, he ran into a major stumbling block: Parking.

“That was one of the major challenges: How do I provide parking for a staff of 30 in an economical way?” said Boyd, president of Welch Comer Engineers.

Boyd spends hours in meetings downtown each week and had a strong desire to move to the city’s core. But the lack of parking at that time made relocating from his Kathleen Avenue office in northern Coeur d’Alene infeasible.

That was then.

Last week, Welch Comer employees moved into their newly renovated office space in the former Wiggett Building at Fourth and Lakeside.

“Without the parking garage, we wouldn’t have done it,” Boyd said Thursday.

The $7.6 million parking garage, on the 300 block of Coeur d’Alene Avenue, has had a significant impact on the city’s central business district, Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association manager Terry Cooper said.

“It’s resulted in a desire to improve, remodel and design buildings that bring in a professional-type environment,” Cooper said.

The Wiggett Building is now home to several business. Boyd estimates 60 office staffers who work in the four-story building have bought annual parking passes for the 360-spot garage.

One block up the street, the 100-year-old former Elks building at 418 E. Lakeside is also home to dozens of downtown employees who work out of the modernized building, now called the Innovation Den. Most of those employees also use the parking garage.

It “has made a big difference when you look at downtown business activity,” Cooper said. “Not just the retail and restaurants, but for the people working downtown.”

The garage, which opened last November, provides a convenient parking option to downtown workers, opening more street spaces to people visiting the business district.

“It definitely creates less (curbside) shuffling of employees moving their cars every two hours,” Cooper said.

Coeur d’Alene city administrator Troy Tymesen said revenue from the parking garage peaked in July, as expected.

“It’s been the best month so far,” Tymesen said. Hourly parking generated nearly $14,000 for the month; monthly passes totaled about $12,000.

Parking in the garage is free for the first two hours and costs $1 an hour after that. Special events such as holiday parades cost $10. Secured parking is available for $75 a month.

Garage parking revenue goes into the city’s park fund, which covers maintenance and capital expenditures.

Located in the city’s core, the parking structure was funded by ignite cda, the city’s urban renewal agency.

Tony Berns, executive director of ignite cda, said the agency’s board developed a vision for the garage several years ago to serve as a “catalytic investment” for downtown.

“It’s a great investment that will stimulate growth throughout the downtown sector,” Berns said.

Nearly 10 months after it opened to the public, Tymesen said he was pleased with the community’s response and the use of the garage.

“I would give it a very high grade,” he said. “Its location is an A-plus, its seasonal activity is an A-plus, and, when it does about $30,000 in revenue in a single month, I’d say that’s very, very positive.”

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