Surface Parking Lots are a Priority to be Developed
Vast acres of land sit vacant in Milwaukee. Sometimes they partially fill for part of the day, but most of the time, this land sits barren collecting trash, adding nothing to the city. Surface parking lots take up prime real estate along the Milwaukee River, in East Town there are surface lots which sit a short walk from million dollar condos, and are used for truck parking. On the East Side, there are still surface lots in prime locations, and there’s no question that opposition to the development of these sites will form, and parking will be a tool used to fight the development. Far too often concerns over parking play a role in stopping investment, continuing the loss of our history, and destroying the urban fabric.
In fact just about anytime a new development is proposed in Milwaukee the “issue” of parking is sure to bubble up. For example, concerns over the loss of public parking played a role in bringing Mercy Housing Lakefront’s proposal on the East Side to a halt. When the concept of an on-campus basketball facility for UWM was floated, people hit the blogs to complain about the impacts on parking. The list of projects opposed on the grounds of “parking” is endless, and unfortunate as this has worked against building the tax base and growing Milwaukee.
These lots damage the fabric of the city by creating gaps and dead spaces that are uncomfortable to the pedestrian. Walking along any large surface lots has a is more like the edge of a desert, than it is the center of a city. Density is reduce by surface lots as this pushes buildings further apart, in fact discouraging walking and encouraging more automobile driving. The net result of this is that walkability, density, and the sense of place are all degraded, taking away key advantages that make cities work.
I hope that when projects come along that propose the development of a surface parking lot in the future, this will be looked at as a positive, not a negative.