Apr 20, 2023 - News

Downtown Atlanta is 25% parking

A map of Downtown Atlanta with areas shaded red marking parking lots

Screenshot: Parking Reform Network

One-quarter of Downtown Atlanta is devoted to parking, per an analysis by the Parking Reform Group. That's a lot of asphalt.

Why it matters: Downtowns are supposed to be bustling with activity and motion and accessible to everyone. Plentiful parking lots and decks take up valuable real estate, encourage people to drive more and create a less walkable neighborhood.

  • Atlanta's, unfortunately, a case study in the issue.

Zoom out: But Atlanta isn't the worst. Peer cities that devote plenty of space to parking spaces include Dallas (24), Birmingham (26) and Cleveland (26).

  • A whopping 42% of Downtown Arlington is used as parking.
  • No surprise, but NYC clocks in at 1%.

Yes, but: Atlanta has crafted some policies to reduce the glut of spaces, like removing parking mandates at developments near MARTA rail stations.

  • Earlier this year, the Atlanta City Council approved legislation lowering the number of required spaces in Downtown and Midtown.

Details: Midtown's moved faster than Downtown in replacing parking lots with high-rises. But urbanism advocates think a multi-billion dollar wave of new development — and thus new people — could offer an opportunity.

  • "As we're adding commercial and residential in those areas, the surface parking lots are starting to go away," Shayna Pollock, Central Atlanta Progress' managing director of transportation, told Axios.
  • "Over time that dynamic and the changing land use around it — as well as just the additional people coming to Downtown — will drive interest in investment in anything other than driving alone."

What they're saying: "The sad reality is the glut of parking has not unleashed the potential of Downtown," Matt Garbett of urbanism advocacy group Thread ATL told Axios.

  • "The challenge is convincing the lenders, developers, and the city that parking doesn't mean business or people or street life."

What's next: Later this year, CAP will conduct a study measuring off-street parking, the civic group's first deep analysis of the issue since its 2014 report.

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