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Designing a New Downtown

Dave Feehan

What would you do if you could design a downtown from scratch—not in a new suburb, but in the heart of a city that is more than 100 years old?

I’m currently working with a medium-sized Midwestern city that decades ago demolished much of its historic downtown in a desire to move rapidly into the changing urban world of the 1960s. This was the era of urban renewal. Federal dollars were flowing to cities to remove blight, and aging business districts were losing out to newly constructed suburban malls.iStock_000063161393_Large

Of course, not every city scraped clean its historic downtown, but some did and they are now faced with an unexpected opportunity; in many ways, they have a clean slate, a blank canvas on which to create something very new and different.

Approaching this opportunity from a parking perspective, what would you do?

Would you build a number of conventional parking garages? Above-ground or underground? Freestanding or part of mixed-use developments? What about on-street parking? Bike lanes? Complete streets? Would parking come first to induce development or would you wait until demand materialized? Would you consider automated garages? Or, given the trend toward walkable, pedestrian, and bike-oriented approaches to urban development, would you exclude cars altogether perhaps with parking only on the periphery? Given what we now know about autonomous vehicles, will people even own cars in 30 years when your building cycle is nearing completion?

These are not just academic questions. As downtowns become more dense, more residential, and more green, this city and others like it will lead the way in discovering how we are likely to live, work, shop, play, learn, and park for decades to come. One building that may show us how tomorrow may look is the Edge in Amsterdam.

Some cities like Green Bay, Wisc., demolished large sections of their downtowns to build suburban-style shopping malls. When the Port Plaza mall in Green Bay, built in 1977, proved unsuccessful by 2012, it was demolished. New development is planned.

Local leaders in the town I mentioned are now getting very excited as they begin to comprehend the opportunities that await them. Their city is manageable in size, and what happens there could well define a better future for many other cities around the world.

Cleveland Clinic CARES About Parking Symposium: Oct. 28-29

2015 symposium logo

We invite you to join us for the 3rd Annual Cleveland Clinic CARES About Parking Symposium,held in cooperation with the International Parking Institute (IPI) and Parking Solutions, Inc. This year’s event will take place October 28 and 29 at the InterContinental Hotel and Convention Center located on the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus in Cleveland, Ohio.2015 symposium logo

What began in 2013 as the award winning Cleveland Clinic Parking Services Team sharing its innovative CARES model (Customer Experience, Available Parking, Responsible Finance, Engaged Employees, Sustainable Business), has transformed into a highly interactive event where healthcare professionals from all over the world come together and network, initiate dynamic discussions, share best practices, and more.

This year’s theme is Driving ForwardUsing Technology, Data, and Best Practices to Improve Your Transportation and Parking Operations. Hospitals and parking organizations from all over the country will be attending and sharing their best practices and lessons learned related to this year’s theme.

Here are a few of this year’s highlights:

  • Keynote speaker: Gordon M. Snow, Cleveland Clinic Chief of Protective Services.
  • Guest speakers include representatives from:
    • IPI’s Technology Committee.
    • The Cleveland Clinic.
    • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
    • Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
    • Lehigh Valley Health Network.
    • Oregon Health & Science University.
    • More to be announced soon.
    • Topics will include Cyber Security Threats, Valet Successes, Valet Parking Technology, Transportation Management Planning, Commute Trip Reduction Laws, Alternative Modes of Transportation, Patient Experience, Shuttle Bus Conversion from Diesel Fuel to Natural Gas, Managing Employee Expectations, Ambassador Services, Shuttle Bus Technology, License Plate Recognition, and Inventory Management, and more!
      • The parking services team at the Cleveland Clinic Parking Services operates 44,000 spaces, 11 garages, 116 surface lots, 50,000 internal customers and 24 valet locations. They were awarded the 2013 Silver Award from the Partnership for Excellence (Malcom Baldridge State Level Program). This award is the nations highest honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. The mission of Cleveland Clinic Parking Services is to provide safe and convenient parking while constantly seeking innovations that enhance quality and service, operating fiscally responsible, and contributing to a healthy environment.

We are very excited about this year’s event and hope you can join us. Please visit to learn more and register for the event.

Contact me directly at or 614.453.1507 with any questions.


Guest Blogger Jeremy Robinson is marketing manager with Parking Solutions, Inc.

Parking Goes to Summer Camp

Jeff Petry

Many of us are starting to think about summer camps. While child care may be a prime motivator for parents seeking out camp programs, there are often other reasons they are are popular: they provide a new learning experience that promotes social awareness, fosters creativity, and nurtures independence, all under the heading of FUN!

These are also the skill sets we want in our parking teams. We go to trainings, read management books, and work with human resources professionals to encourage employee development and form stronger work groups. When these goals are met, coming to work becomes fun. So why don’t we send our parking staff to summer camp?

The City of Eugene’s parking staff is going to camp this year! In partnership with the city’s Recreation Division, each parking staff member will pick a camp for one week over the summer months, and attend it as a counselor. They will attend the necessary camp counselor training prior to their week away, and everyone will return with stories to share of what they learned through the experience.

Besides a great week at camp, what do we get out of this? Many of us will stretch our comfort zones by working with kids and in a different environment. We get to immerse ourselves in a creative space to help others learn and foster their learning experiences. And we get to laugh and smile.

What’s in it for the Recreation Division? They get employees who have completed all city-required trainings and understand our organization’s cultures and values. They know how to handle potential conflicts and what it is like work with the public. Recreation staff will get to work with our employees, who will bring their own values, influences, humor, and camp energy to create a unique camp experience for every child (Can you imagine a child receiving a ticket for parking at the bottom of the slide?). Plus, recreation staff are excellent at seeing the positive in all things, even parking officers at summer camp!

What both programs get is a unique opportunity to cross over the organizational chart and intersperse two unlikely work groups in a new way that builds networks and refreshes the work spirit.

I am thinking about choosing Magicians of Everyday Magic for my camp. What would you choose?