A few months ago, I plotted surface parking in Rochester, MN. Granted, the concept of mapping surface parking lots is outdated now that Andrew Price pioneered maps that show places versus non-places. Yet a map of surface parking looks to give the first layer of non-places in Downtown Rochester. These parcels are also the most easy to convert into actual places, especially as Rochester has the opportunity to liberalise parking requirements and provisions in their DMC plans and city comprehensive plan.
Unfortunately, Rochester’s parking ramps aren’t places either…
Parking developers in Rochester, as in most cities, have ignored the oath to “do no harm,” building blank walls and placing parking decks over streets. But with treatment of chronic anti-place conditions, these blocks can become healthy once again. Parking ramps allow for slightly more surgical insertion of “place” within an existing structure, especially ramps with level decks. These sidewalks could be activated by small flex spaces, creating storefront spaces that could range from small offices for startups to small restaurants to light industrial make-spaces. Anything is more active than a blank wall with empty cars behind it.
But surface parking requires no such triage: it’s not just a non-place, it’s a non-anything. It’s a blank slate, ready for replacement of the places that were once there.
Rochester, go turn your parking lots into places!