|NA, not Peoria.|
How does all that low-value pavement impact economic productivity?
PEORIA'S PARKING PROBLEM, by Rachel Quednau (Strong Towns)
Peoria is a central Illinois town of about 114,000 with a profile typical of many small Midwestern cities: pockets of poverty, reliance on one major employer, seen better days... But we're highlighting it today because it illustrates a common problem that most American cities have—a problem with parking.
Not too little parking, too much.
The highest value areas are those traditional downtowns with mixed-use developments and walkable streets, where residences, businesses and people are concentrated in productive clusters and prioritized over parking and roads. Why is that? Because land is used to its highest potential in this pattern of design and the utilities (i.e. roads, pipes, etc.) needed to service productive land are not very far apart and thus not very costly.
Whereas downtown Peoria's buildings are valuable, not so much property that does nothing except warehouse unused cars.
In fact, Peoria is so full of parking that the amount of land devoted to surface parking in the county actually surpasses the amount of land devoted to buildings. If you factor in another big form of pavement that dominates our cities—roads—the amount of buildings in Peoria makes up a mere half of all the paved areas in Peoria. That's a problem, because parking lots are worth very little.
Peoria is a particularly egregious example of excessive parking, but it's probably not terribly different from your own town. It's startling if you've never given it much thought, but next time you're at a mall or a big box store, take a look around. Recognize just how much land is occupied with pavement and how much is occupied with buildings. Heck, do it in your downtown. Then check out the site on Google Earth and the imbalance will become even more clear ...
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