The Silent Enemy That Is Killing Downtown Detroit

August 16, 2013, 12:42 PM

The map shows the space devoted in downtown Detroit to parking.

Garages are orange.

Surface lots are red.

The map made the rounds this week as Detroit’s Historic District Commission denied permission to the owners of the architecturally significant State Savings Bank downtown to demolish the structure to build a parking garage. It was a rare victory for local preservationists.

If the garage had been allowed to proceed, it would have become the 58th parking garage in downtown Detroit. And a garage under construction by Quicken Loans will open soon behind the Compuware Building.

The map is the work of Robbie Linn, Bid Manager at the Southwest Detroit Business Association and an urban planner who formerly worked for Data Driven Detroit.

Even with the more workers arriving downtown in the past couple of years and the opening of several new stores, apartments and restaurants, Linn's research shows 39.2% of downtown land is devoted to parking.

"On many blocks downtown, parking places are the dominant land use," Linn said. "In some ways, there are increasing options for parking with increasingly fewer destinations."

Critics, including Dan Austin and the people behind the Facebook page Michigan Needs More Parking,  continue to raise alarms.

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