Downtown growth brings parking crunch, vision for future - WSMV Channel 4

Downtown growth brings parking crunch, vision for future

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The boom of downtown Nashville might seem like a great thing, but it's brought a growing problem. As new buildings, hotels and businesses promise to bring crowds downtown, where will those people park?

Already, an estimated 50,000 people work downtown, and that is only expected to grow as the city does the same.

"The parking is pretty expensive downtown," said downtown driver Becky West. "We're kind of worried when the new convention center opens and they have events there. I mean, it's bad now with the old one, so I don't know what's going to happen. They're going to have to do something."

No one knows the parking problem quite like Tom Turner, who crunches numbers for the Nashville Downtown Partnership.

"It's never glamorous, but if you don't have a parking problem, you've really got a problem," Turner said.

Currently, the Park It Downtown website lists 28,656 available spots. That number may sound like a lot, but consider it includes thousands of spaces at LP Field, in state-owned lots and lots requiring private permits.

In spite of the crunch, Turner remains optimistic.

"Right now, things still look pretty good. We could always use more," he said.

And downtown will soon get more parking spaces. When the new convention center opens, so will 1,800 new parking spots.

Nearby, at the existing Nashville City Center, workers will add 500 spots in a new garage.

Beyond just parking spaces, the plan for Nashville also includes an increased push for new thinking.

"You look at Austin, Indianapolis, Denver or Charlotte, and they're beating us on ride share or mode share. So, they have more people that walk, more people that bike, more people that take transit, more people that carpool," Turner said.

It sounds like a good idea for drivers like West, facing the downtown challenge at least five days a week.

"I think they're going to have to build some parking lots or get commuting, you know - shuttle service or something," she said.

As for the price to park, planners say to expect parking lots closer to Broadway to run higher as downtown grows.

To find a parking space near your destination, visit http://www.parkitdowntown.com/.

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