Thursday, March 6, 2008

Straighten It Out

The Kragen Auto Parts store on Park Blvd sits right next to the Parkway Theater, glorious home of couches, beer, pizza, and second-run movies. Kragen has a huge (relative to the size of the store) parking lot that I've never seen more than halfway full--during business hours. (The picture above was taken on a Sunday afternoon.) At night, it's required to be empty, as shown in the sign below:

So while the Parkway does almost all its business after Kragen's has closed, nobody who goes there is allowed to park in the huge parking lot next door, upon threat of towing. Often when I have gone to a movie at the Parkway, I've been late because it's taken 15 or 20 minutes just to find a parking spot in the neighborhood. An extra 20 parking spaces would open up parking for, say, 25 to 50 people, a significant percentage of moviegoers on any given night.
This is one of those bureaucratic red-tape kinds of problems. Kragen was doubtless required to include customer parking in their project plan. And since it's their lot, and they're a national chain, they have no incentive to share it with some local pipsqueak movie theater. I have nothing against Kragen, since they're just playing the game by the rules. But somewhere along the way, pressure has to be applied--by city government, neighborhood residents, and the Parkway--to implement some sort of common sense sharing agreement. The Parkway could pay Kragen a monthly fee for the rights to the lot afterhours, or meters could be installed in part of the lot for general city use, for instance. This is a small thing, but it could make a real difference in the neighborhood. Wasted space like this drains the life out of cities, hurts business, and reinforces the idea that the urban landscape is a dangerous, abandoned, post-industrial no-man's land.

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