By Olivia Anderson | [email protected]
Residents will now be able to use the Hotel Indigo garage for public parking after City Council approved a development special use permit on Saturday that reduced the hotel’s overall parking requirements to increase its garage accessibility for the public.
Per the request, Hotel Indigo is now permitted to open its garage for public parking use to eliminate the excess parking capacity it currently has in the garage. The hotel will be able to reserve spaces for hotel guests when demand is high and valet service can park in the garage.
“The proposal will provide additional opportunities for public parking in the core of the waterfront,” Michael Swidrak, an urban planner for the city, said. “The conditions of the approval provide flexibility for future management and operations of the garage.”
The proposal follows a DSUP request council originally approved in 2019 that allowed for slightly more flexibility in parking garage access, including parking in the one-level garage because of the excess capacity.
This new approval amends the previous DSUP to allow for both the utilization of the 2018 commercial parking standards and to allow public parking and self-parking in the garage.
Specifically, there are a total of 69 spaces in the parking garage, but only 24 spaces required for 120 hotel rooms as stated by the city’s updated parking requirements. This leaves up to 45 spaces unused, which will now be available for public parking use with the DSUP.
Swidrak said that the proposal complies with the waterfront small area plan by “ensuring adequate parking throughout the plan area” and “maximizing underutilized parking opportunities elsewhere in Old Town.”
“The proposal implements plan recommendations related to parking, including new parking capacity on redevelopment sites that should be made available to support the overflow parking needs of Old Town residents,” Swidrak said.
During the discussion period, council expressed support for the overall proposal but honed in on condition 37, which stated that parking spaces within the parking garage that are required to comply with zoning requirements for the hotel use may be made for public/off-site use if excess parking can be demonstrated.
Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker asked for clarification of the timeline of the clause, “if excess parking can be demonstrated.”
“I think what we’re trying to avoid is a situation where the hotel has to show you three months of data before they can then have those spots back,” Bennett-Parker said. “We want that parking used 100% as much as possible, as quickly as possible.”
Mayor Justin Wilson said the language of the last clause is not mandatory and requires the hotel to provide unnecessary additional data to the city.
“You could argue that [the hotel] has already demonstrated that excess parking exists – that’s why we’re here, that’s why the application is being recommended for approval by staff,” Wilson said.
Hotel Indigo provided daily parking counts for five months in 2018 and 2019, which showed that an average of 22 to 32 spaces were occupied on a given day and parking demand seldom exceeded 50 spaces.
Ultimately, council opted to eliminate the words, “if excess parking can be demonstrated” to allow for flexibility.
Councilor Mo Seifeldein made a motion to approve the amended request, with Bennett-Parker seconding, and council approved the motion 7-0.