Parking in downtown Raleigh may get worse before it gets better.
The city recently dedicated more spaces in municipal parking decks for people who pay a monthly fee. That means there are fewer spots for downtown workers and visitors who pay a daily or hourly rate, forcing them to find parking elsewhere.
Raleigh owns about 8,500 off-street parking spots downtown, and more than 6,000 of them are reserved for monthly rentals. The city needs more than 1,000 additional spaces in the next few years to meet its promise to accommodate three development projects, including the 22-story FNB tower on Fayetteville Street. So for now it’s not accepting new monthly parking accounts.
As downtown Raleigh continues to grow, parking becomes a bigger challenge. The city has offered dedicated parking spaces in decks as an economic development tool to lure companies downtown. But now there’s a shortage of spaces as more people move and work downtown.
“In some ways this is the result of a good thing,” said City Manager Ruffin Hall. “Parking policies in downtown are something cities struggle with all across the country.”
Raleigh is also considering other options to increase parking. Ideas include partnering with the state to share the Green Square parking deck on Edenton Street, expanding carpool options for city staff and encouraging businesses to participate in the GoPass program in which employees are encouraged to use public transportation.
Another option is to build a new 1,000-space parking deck, which could cost between $20 million and $30 million, and working with private organizations to build parking decks like the city’s recent partnership with Kane Realty for the Dillon.
Jim Hickman works downtown and has a monthly parking pass for a deck on Wilmington Street, but the “lot full” sign has been on more frequently in recent weeks.
“I think we’re probably on the verge of having some real issues because the growth is happening so fast and it’s bringing more jobs which means (parking decks will) fill up faster on the weekdays,” Hickman said. “I think the biggest challenge is the lots aren’t really centrally located. Raleigh is an interesting city because it’s a driver’s city but I think they’re going to have more issues.”
Chris Douglas, who parks downtown a few times a week for work, said he can usually find a spot after circling a block a few times.
Parking is worse in the Warehouse District, where some people have to park five or six blocks away, he said.
Where can you park in downtown Raleigh?
If you’re unsure about where you can park in downtown, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance offers this list of parking decks, parking lots and metered street parking to help you find a space.