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! is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

, , ,

25 Responses to The 278 Story Parking Ramp Downtown Minneapolis Would Need Without Transit

  1. Mike Sonn
    Mike Sonn December 4, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    St Paul immediately begins work on 300 story parking ramp.

    • Wayne December 4, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

      But refuses to charge anyone to use it. That’s what their property taxes are for, after all.

  2. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke December 4, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    That’ll put Dubai in its place.

  3. Matty Lang
    Matty Lang December 4, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    Don’t let Pat Garofalo see this.

  4. Adam Miller
    Adam Miller December 4, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    What if we made a giant underground parking structure instead?

    At 2,365 feet, the bottom floor of the mega-underground parking facility would be the new deepest place you can visit in the U.S., passing level 27 of the Soudan Mine at a mere 2,341 feet below the surface.

    To heck with Dubai, let’s out-dig the world!

  5. Matt Steele
    Matt Steele December 4, 2015 at 11:38 am #

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

    • Nick Magrino
      Nick Magrino December 4, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

      Probably great magazines in that ramp’s waiting area, though.

    • Wayne December 4, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

      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.

  6. Will December 4, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    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.

    • Nick Magrino
      Nick Magrino December 4, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

      +1 for use of “burg”

  7. Matty Lang
    Matty Lang December 4, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    I don’t know, Nick. Did you look into “Smart Parking”? Looks intriguing:

  8. Wayne December 4, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    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

  9. Alex December 4, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    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.

  10. Stephen Gross December 6, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    It needs an art deco facade to meet Planning Commission standards.

    • Nick Magrino
      Nick Magrino December 6, 2015 at 11:21 am #

      Would have to recuse myself from this one as the applicant I guess 🙁

    • Wayne December 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

      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.

      • Grant Simons December 6, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

        Actually there is no ground floor.

  11. Ron December 11, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    Needs a skyway.

  12. Xan December 19, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    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.


  1. Sunday Summary – December 6, 2015 | - December 6, 2015

    […] started driving instead, Minneapolis could or should build the 278 story ramp in the title. As one commenter summed up this post: “It’s the perfect combination of facts, snark, and visual representation of the […]

Note on Comments welcomes opinions from many perspectives. Please refrain from attacking or disparaging others in your comments. sees debate as a learning opportunity. Please share your perspective in a respectful manner. View our full comment policy to learn more.

Thanks for commenting on!