Updated: Friday, 06 Aug 2010, 6:46 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 26 Jan 2010, 10:11 PM EST
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Canalside and other big plans are designed to bring new crowds of people downtown, but where will they put their cars? Buffalo Place needs an affordable place to park new businesses and customers.
A big show at Shea's certainly brings out the crowds on any given night. You can tell just by the parking lots. The ones across the street fill up quickly, but it's usually not tough to find a spot nearby.
And as long as you're willing to pay for it, parking is usually not tough to come by in downtown Buffalo at night. During the day, it's more of a challenge. Donald Shoup is an urban planning expert who has written about what he calls, "the high cost of free parking." Local officials, developers and concerned Buffaloians came out to here his message.
Kevin Helfer, who is Executive Director of the Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, said, "We have a very high occupancy rate in downtown Buffalo.
Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps manages city ramps and lots. He says the daily parker is paying roughly $1,000 a year.
"I think Buffalo does it pretty good. If you start raising the parking rates too high and you start losing tenants in downtown Buffalo, it will have a very negative economic development impact," said Helfer.
Donald Shoup talked about metered parking and how many communities raised the rates on those meters and in turn put that money right back into community improvements like lighting, sidewalks and other streetscape projects. Buffalo Parking Board member Chris Austin says it's not as simple as that.
"Because different districts command more entertainment dollars, more people coming for restaurants, there would have to be a delicate balance of how that money is appropriated or divided," said Austin.
Downtown business owner Jim Sandoro says it's something that should be looked into.
"We have people visiting from out of town, Canadian visitors, they can be contributing to our infrastructure and that's really important and so simple," said Sandaro.
Donald Shoup says the parking goal is to maintain 85 percent occupancy, to have enough business, but also to make sure there is enough space available for those who want it.