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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Downtown Minneapolis Parking -- Or Lack Thereof

8th Time is the Charm?

No, downtown Minneapolis doesn't literally have "Keep Out" signs posted on its perimeter.

But it might as well have.

I just returned from a (thankfully rare) appointment downtown, and spent double the time it took me to get downtown, about 10 minutes, looking for parking once I got there.

Thanks to ongoing road construction, a good chunk of the street level parking meters are out of commission. Even when they're available, you'd better have a pocket full of correct change: a quarter only buys 12 minutes (or is it 8?).

Meanwhile, it took me 7 parking ramps before I finally found one that wasn't full.

Eighth Time is the Charm?

So, given all those full ramps, isn't this just a Yogi Berra-esque case of "nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded?"

Actually, no.

Judging by the signs in front of all those full ramps, the majority of cars parked there are monthly contract parkers -- that is, people who work downtown.

But the clincher was the sparsity of retail stores -- and the lack of customers in them.

By my unscientific count, the number of retail stores in downtown Minneapolis is down 30% from 5 years ago, and the number of customers in what's left is down . . . . more.

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