The 278 Story Parking Ramp Downtown Minneapolis Would Need Without Transit

There are about 160,000 workers in the greater Downtown Minneapolis area–you can see them formatting spreadsheets, etc. from very faraway. About 40% of those workers take transit into downtown, which is great! What if they did not take buses and trains, and they drove their cars instead?

Well, a lot of things–they’d be less healthy, would have harder winter commutes, and probably listen to more bad talk radio–but that’s all pretty abstract. Less abstract is this 64,000 space parking ramp they’d need:

View from Dunwoody Parkway

View from Dunwoody Boulevard

Damn! That is a big parking ramp. There was some light mathematical and artistic license taken here; per the Sketchup artist, Grant Simons, you’d get about 230 spaces on a floor with the required car elevator, and a floor of parking is generally something like eight and a half feet…230 spots per level, divide that by 64,000 workers, gonna need 278 stories, and there’s your 2,365 foot ramp. For comparison, the IDS Center is 792 feet tall, though it does of course have levels of underground parking.

Don’t get too hung up on the logistics here, it’s just a thought experiment. This ramp would be pretty expensive, especially the upper 270 stories. Generally structured parking spots run builders something like $20,000 per spot, so even if there were zero extra construction costs associated with a supertall ramp, you’re looking at about $1.28 billion dollars, or approximately 1.33 Green Lines. I’m sure the public sector would take care of it.

It is a little jarring to see the big cube, but if you look at the map, there is quite a bit of parking currently, in full block surface lots and huge ramps and hidden under office towers and in podiums of apartment buildings. What if you smushed the ABC Ramps together and flipped the frankenramp on its side so as to make it a skyscraper? It’d be pretty big.

Where will you park?

Where will you park?

Here are a couple more shots:


She’s plopped on the block behind the Armory


From the airport

Happy Friday!

Nick Magrino

About Nick Magrino

Nick Magrino grew up all over the place but has lived in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis longer than anywhere else. He has a new cat, Sweater, and does not use hashtags at @nickmagrino. He is probably on a bus right now.

25 thoughts on “The 278 Story Parking Ramp Downtown Minneapolis Would Need Without Transit

  1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

    The only ramp in America which would cost more than the Destination Medical Center program intended to spend on new structured parking in Rochester.

    1. Wayne

      Shieks in town for their medical treatment accept only the most luxurious parking ramps for their fleets of SUVs. You wouldn’t want to mess up the gold plated rims in any old parking structure. They risk losing the business of that demographic if they don’t go all out for parking.

  2. Will

    Nonsense. We can have all the cartopia we need with ten 30-story ramps placed around downtown. For extra convenience, they could all be connected by a multi-lane parking expressway and, of course, be skyway connected.

    But, since every space has to be right in front of the destination of their choosing, we could also expand parking by demolishing non-stadium buildings downtown and replace with surface parking. Finally, we’ve created the kind of place that will attract out-of-town visitors to our wonderful burg.

  3. Wayne

    I love everything about this post. It’s the perfect combination of facts, snark, and visual representation of the consequences of something.

    A++ would read again and again and again, fast loading

  4. Alex

    It’s beside the actual point of the piece, but wasn’t there something fishy about that 40% number? Shockingly, the Downtown Council plan is not very specific about sources. I seem to remember the share being closer to 20%? And if you look at a zip code map, the 160k jobs figure seems unlikely to match up very well with the study area for the modal split.

    Of course, even picking my nits, you’d need a ludicrously big ramp to park the Downtown transit riders. It would be nice to have better numbers on them, though.

    1. Nick MagrinoNick Magrino Post author

      I think the 160,000 number is from some area bigger than what a lot of people would consider downtown, yeah. And I guess I’m not sure how my anecdotal experiences line up for the 40% mode split–there are definitely a lot of standing room only buses and trains. The total would include lots of jobs beyond 9 to 5 accountants who live in Prior Lake, I suppose.

      “data” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        1. Grant Simons

          Not everyone, but a very large majority. I would think it would be safe to assume that over 90% of vehicle commuters are still commuting alone. In fact, there’s data on it:

          They may be a bit older, but only 10% of Americans carpool according to the data.

          Even if we did knock off 10% of the structure, it’d still be 2,125 ft.

      1. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

        I’d seen that 40% number bandied about before, and I think this is where it was taken from (actual “data”)

        It varies quite a bit depending on the survey, location, time of day, and if you only count commuters vs everyone else. To Monte’s point, carpoolers would be baked into a mode share number.

  5. Pingback: Sunday Summary – December 6, 2015 |

    1. Wayne

      Don’t forget some ground floor retail space that will probably remain empty for years because they don’t want to bother being a landlord.

  6. Xan

    Doing the math, at about 600 ft of driving per level, the commute to the top of the building would be about 31.5 miles – about the same distance to Stillwater.

    Also we need to consider the cost of surface parking in tax revenue vs developed sites. How much transit could that fund? Someday I will do the math.

Comments are closed.