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Parking at the Pillsbury A Mill debated

The proposed Pillsbury A Mill Complex, just across the river from downtown Minneapolis, is being touted as the future home to a community of artists by the developer Dominium. The buildings at the national historic landmark would be remodeled into 252 rental units, with one building set aside for commercial use.

The developer asked the Minneapolis City Council Zoning and Planning Committee for a variance in the number of parking spaces required for future tenants, usually one parking space for each dwelling unit, and came to the table with 260 available parking spaces.

That’s enough parking for everyone until you subtract 30 set aside for commercial use.

The neighbors were not happy. Most of the curb space in the area is posted for “no parking” or metered. A nearby ramp and a surface lot are both expensive.

“Parking is tough to find now,” said Peter Bachman, who lives in the area, and urged committee members to say no to the request for the variance, which would, Bachman said, “create a real livability problem for the neighborhood.”

Committee members approved all 260 parking spots for future tenants and guests with instructions to the developer to come back for another talk about parking when the commercial space is ready for occupancy.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Alex Bauman on 04/20/2012 - 09:04 am.

    $1 is expensive?

    Actually the St Anthony Falls ramp a block away from the A Mill is $1 after 4pm. Pretty sure all the St Anthony Main businesses validate, so it’s free for customers. People will say anything to fight a development near their house.

  2. Submitted by David Greene on 04/20/2012 - 11:22 am.


    We have way too much parking in this town as it is. When are we going to start learning from our mistakes and realize that “free” parking isn’t free? We spend a lot of money to maintain valuable real estate as parking lots, not to mention the costs of the induced traffic it generates. We need more transit, NOT more parking! If we can’t find a developer who thinks building on a parking lot is a good investment, turn it into a park.

    I’m sorry, but the streets are public and you have no more right to park in front of your house than I do. Walking a few blocks won’t kill you. If you need to park close, build a garage, lay down some gravel in the backyard or otherwise provide for your own private automobile space. Neighborhood parking permits are bad policy and just discourage visitors to our community.

  3. Submitted by John DeWitt on 04/21/2012 - 02:10 pm.

    Parking – the hole we’ve dug ourselves into

    The issues raised in this article are playing out all across Minneapolis.

    I recently heard about a proposed development near Lake Calhoun. The neighborhood argued, quite logically, that the demand for on street parking in the area was already not being met and wanted the development to provide enough parking for all units. A high water table prevented the construction of more than one level of underground parking so about 2/3 of the ground floor was to be dedicated to parking in addition to the underground parking and an outdoor parking lot.

    The neighborhood did not want parking to be optional for owners/renters otherwise they’d save money and park on the street. That makes units more expensive but the parking now seems free. And, as Donald Shoup, UCLA’s parking guru explains, free parking is like a fertility drug for cars.

    A recent article in Finance & Commerce explained that most apartment and condo projects are shaped like shoe boxes because of the requirements of underground parking. Typically, three cars can fit between support columns so that defines one measurement unit. And the length of 2 cars plus an aisle defines the other measurement unit.

    Finally, the costs of all that parking are huge. The ramp that Metro Transit recently built at the 28th Avenue station near the Mall of America station came in at about $11,000 per space. At any given time, the ramp probably cost more than all the cars parked in it. Underground parking comes in at $30-$40,000 per space, making each unit significantly more expensive.

    Our addiction to the automobile doesn’t come cheap.

  4. Submitted by Matthew Steele on 05/03/2012 - 01:09 pm.

    Why not let the market dictate how much parking is needed and how much it costs? If someone wants a spot, they’ll pay for one. Parking minimums are very destructive policies.

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