Building deal highlights possible switch to permit parking for Concord developments

  • A ‘Resident parking only” sign is seen in a neighborhood near the University of New Hampshire Law School. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Thursday, September 28, 2017

Perhaps the most far-reaching change that would have to occur for the sale of the Employment Security building to go through is altering the way Concord doles out parking spaces to developments.

As explained by Matthew Walsh, director of redevelopment for Concord, the city has long used leased spaces when approving new developments that don’t have the acreage or the money to build enough on-site parking. Under this arrangement, a development is assigned a certain number of spaces, usually in one of the city’s three parking garages, which are marked as being reserved for that property.

“This is a very inefficient use of parking spaces,” Walsh said, noting that it costs an average of $30,000 to build a parking space in downtown Concord.

Walsh said studies have shown that leased spaces in Concord are empty half the time during the weekday, and one-third of the time even during peak usage.

Under a permit system, by contrast, residents or businesses in a development could buy monthly permits, giving them a sticker or hanging tag to put in a vehicle that would let them park in a number of different locations without per-hour charges. Details would need to be worked out, including whether permits would include on-street spaces, Walsh said.

Any change would not impact current parking leases, some of which have years remaining before they expire.

Changing to a permit system is one of the proposals supported by the city parking committee.

Walsh said the system should result in more spaces being used more of the time, which is functionally equivalent to increasing the amount of parking within the city.

“This can help with the perception that there’s no parking in town,” he said.

The city’s three municipal garages have 1,235 parking spaces combined, of which 562, or slightly less than half, are taken by long-term leases related to developments. Another 183 garage spaces are taken up by shorter leases.

Because the city has no law allowing a parking permit system, the city council would have to pass an ordinance creating one.

Walsh said that if the council approves the idea of selling the Employment Security building, staff will put together a proposed ordinance for the council’s consideration.

The permit system is required to be in place within 120 days of the sale to the firm Dol-Soul Properties under the proposed sale agreement.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)