Downtown Boca Raton Short 100 Plus Parking Spaces, Study Shows

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Staff report

Finding a parking space in downtown Boca Raton is getting more difficult, according to a new parking study.

The city hired consultants Kimley-Horn to study public parking in downtown Boca Raton. The results were presented to the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency during a recent meeting.

The study indicated downtown is short 108 parking spaces during demand times like nights and weekends. By 2022, downtown will be short between 125 and 150 parking spaces and by 2040, downtown will be short between 250 and 350 parking spaces depending on development trends.

Downtown Boca has 1,275 public parking spaces currently. The most amount of spaces are located on the City Hall campus.

During a weekend count that was conducted on March 30, March 31 and April 1, a Thursday through Saturday night, the study indicates peak times for parking and calculates development trends to predict the number of spaces the city is short.

The study was conducted before new, popular eatery Louie Bossie opened, Mayor Susan Haynie said, noting parking has become even more difficult.

Chairman of the CRA Scott Singer said he heard from a restauranteur that said 10 reservations canceled when they couldn’t find parking at Mizner Park. The city had a summer concert series going on that night, which attracted thousands of people.

Knowing the city will be short parking and knowing that parking is changing with services like Lyft, Kimley-Horn representative Chris Heggen said cities addressing parking are going about it with flexibility.

“Parking has been something that has been relatively static,” Heggen said. “Ride sharing has changed the dynamic a lot.”

He said on-demand ride services and the idea of autonomous vehicles is going to affect the demand of parking. In anticipation of those changes, he said many cities looking at building parking structures are building with in ways that they can be easily retrofitted for other uses if they are not needed in the future. He said they are doing so by building them with higher ceilings and other mechanisms the will allow them to be easily converted into habitable spaces.

To address the parking shortage downtown, Heggen suggested several ideas for the city to look into including, adding a surface lot, building a parking structure, creating remote parking with a shuttle, incorporating parking into the new proposed government center or forming a public/private relationship with developers of downtown projects to allow for shared parking.

He said the city should look into all the options not just one. One of the issues with building a garage is that the city doesn’t currently own any land east of Mizner Boulevard. The agency board did not make any decisions on how to address the shortage.