Saturday, 4 December 2010

Downtown surface parking. Revisted. Again.

and more parking
We love our surface parking lots.

For a citizenry who love nothing better than to beat up on their city what better a stark, daily reminder that something is amiss than blocks of surface parking in your face ?

Publicly, we pretend to loathe them. We wring our hands about them and give them some lip service at election time. For the most part, though, the overriding premise among most Winnipeggers is that standing in the way of an erect building becoming a surface parking lot is "anti-development". Who wants to be anti development ?!

There has been a flurry of parking related posts and stories in the past couple of days.

Shanghai Building
Shanghai Building
Shanghai Restaurant - Kives wrote about the fact that the Shanghai could be granted a demolition permit next week. As pointed out by OMC, it's for yet another one of those vague kinda-maybe-a-new-development-one-day-maybe developments. In the meantime, it would be another Chinatown surface parking lot.

Harry's Confectionary / Shoe Shine
Hopefully the city WILL insist on a better plan or no demolition permit. They have done that more of late. One example is a building on Notre Dame earlier this month (a post on this block coming soon !).

St. Charles Hotel
Lonely House 5 - Albert Street
In related news, a wee snippet in the Saturday FreeP notes that Zaifman has been ordered to board up the long-derelict St. Charles Hotel. If you recall, a couple of years ago he simply HAD to tear down the Albert Block to make it into a surface parking lot for his boutique hotel development.
that turned out to be a .

Some of those nasty 'anti-development' critics surmised that he may just be angling for a surface parking lot a few steps from Portage and Main and that the hotel idea may be just one of those
kinda-maybe-a-new-development-one-day-maybe developments. Guess what.

Despite taking a lot of knocks, council decided to let the building remain and two years later the St. Charles boutique hotel idea seems as long gone as Mr.Canada's "Nashville North".

McIntyre Block Empty Lot
Mary Agnes Welch has a feature story in the Free Press this weekend about surface parking lots.

It's the Winnipeg media quinquennial in-depth story about how much surface parking there is out there. The usual suspects are discussed: the former Trib parking lot on Graham and my favourite example of the the kinda-maybe-a-new-development-one-day-maybe development demolitions: the McIntyre Block lot just off Portage and Main, celebrating its 32nd year as a surface parking lot.

Of course you can't talk parking without checking out Rise and Sprawl's Winnipeg surface parking map, (compare to a 1969 or even a 1957 surface parking map at Manitoba Historical Maps). Now, Galston has added what will likely become the quintessential video on Winnipeg's downtown surface parking lot issue !

Recent parking lot news unrelated to Winnipeg's situation:

- Archpaper's blog post about New York City wanting to expand their 'pop up café' program in 2011. The program was a way to infill unused sidewalk and surface parking lots around the city.

- L.A.'s pilot project to make some of their parking lots safer for the homeless who live in cars and RVs.

- An oldie but a goodie, The Overhead Wire looks at surface parking in American downtowns noting that "...once the whole downtown turns into a parking lot it's not really worth much anymore is it?"

To end off, images of some of what the 'anti-development' types have done to the city ;)

Nutty Club
Parking Lot
St. Mary Parking Lot
Parking Lots
Museum and Planetarium Parking Lot
Boyd Building lot
Graham Ave
Skyline - Old and New


One Man Committee said...

I know that some might say too much is made of surface parking lots and that there are other more pressing issues that deserve our attention. But in many ways, excessive surface parking is a symptom of the poor planning decisions that have been made and continue to be made in this city. 60 years of bad decisions have caught up with us and we're left with a central area pockmarked with these lots that drain the city of vitality.

At least the city has finally wised up to the bait and switch so often used to get demolition permits, though. You know, the one that involves an impressive rendering of some sort of glamourous development intended for the site, only to have plans "fall through" after demolition has taken place.

Brian said...

"At least the city has finally wised up to the bait and switch so often used to get demolition permits, though."

Don't speak too soon, Walter!

One Man Committee said...


Colin said...

I'm really saddened to hear of yet another heritage building being stampeded into demolition - this time the Shanghai restaurant in Chinatown.
What a landmark, if ever there was one. Not many people know in the 1880's it was briefly used as a meeting place for city hall!
The restaurant has also been in that location since the 1940's (!) and the decor inside is a total time warp -- check out the Winnipeg Love and Hate blog to see it.

Or better yet, go there. If I lived in the Peg I sure would.

It says something very depressing about the mindset of a city, when it's so hell-bent on destroying its own beauty.
Why do so many prairie towns have this collective case of low self-esteem?