A Tower of Parking

On a recent Facebook forum of Rochester urbanists, someone broached the topic of a semi-recent development project on the fringe of the city near our largest employer, the University of Rochester. In this parcel of land called CityGate, Costco is the anchor store, with 3 reasonably priced eateries and a liquor store positioned on the perimeter. There are also several spaces that have been vacant since the project opened some time ago.

The topic on the Facebook group centered on the sprawling layout and the ridiculous amount of space devoted to parking. Let’s look at just how much space we’re talking about…

Pretty simple, the red is the area devoted to parking, while the blue represents the physical buildings. It’s painfully easy to see that there is far more parking lot than space to do business.

How much more? If you created two “towers” from the above shapes, this is what you would end up with…The above image gives us a clearer view of how much more parking (which costs money) than physical business space (which makes money) there is in CityGate.

When urbanists speak to the amount of sheer space that auto-related infrastucture occupies in our community landscapes, these are the sort of examples we use. The relatively small amount of revenue-generating space in such a massive plot of land is unsustainable and unnecessary, especially since the parking lots are typically less than half full.

This is a quick look at one example of our development sprawl, but there are countless others in my community alone. Let’s choose the long-term practical benefits of density over the unsustainable mistakes of sprawl.