Sunday, September 29, 2013

Downtown vs. parking

 (The former Coventry Square Mall, across 1st Av from the convention center,
is being converted to condos)

Interesting story about downtown housing developments in today's Gazette. It was based largely on an interview with Fred Timko, who has taken the lead in a number of condo projects, as well as results of a survey of attendees at an Economic Alliance Forum in May 2013.

A few takeaway points:

1. According to the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, there are about 1000 housing units in the downtown area, and 93-95 percent of these are occupied. This is much better than I'd thought, and is encouraging further development.

 2. The survey found 46 percent liked downtown's "energy, activity and nightlife," while 36 percent liked its walkability. On the other hand, 40 percent said there wasn't enough parking. Folks, this is not a coincidence. You can't have one without the other. (See Donald Shoup's The Parking Dilemma, on which I commented in July.)

 3. Timko is hopeful that, as more people live downtown, we'll start to see grocery stores, drug stores, and such. In the survey, 47 percent cited this as a problem, and they're right. The key will be integrating it into a walkable arrangement, rather than the megastore-with-gigantic-parking-lot model dominant in the rest of the area.

I remain hopeful that this trend will continue, and that it will eventually include single family homes, as well as spreading into the MedQuarter and the Taylor Area.

SOURCE: Chelsea Keenan, "Downtown Housing Momentum Growing," Cedar Rapids Gazette, 29 September 2013, 1D, 4D and

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