Why The Fed’s Proposed Parking Garage Is Terrible For The Climate

As you might have heard, the Minneapolis branch of the Federal Reserve has proposed a new 800 space parking ramp in the North Loop. The ramp would replace an existing 300 space surface lot. Plans for the ramp, which you can view here, call for a structure of five stories on the northwestern side of the site, abutting the Cedar Lake Trail and the railroad tracks that carry freight and Northstar Commuter Rail. In order to improve the project’s chances of receiving its requested variances, the Fed has sought to be a good neighbor. In addition to the ramp, the site would be nicely landscaped, provide a pedestrian pathway to the river, and allow the Cedar Lake Trail to curve at it meets the river road, instead of hitting it at a T as it currently does.

I find this project to be plainly awful. I think the design is of low quality and I lament the lack of any other uses on this site. There are several parking ramp projects in the downtown that at least include some other additional use, from housing to offices, and one of those mixed office and parking projects nearby in the North Loop is designed in such a way that the parking levels would be easy to adapt into something else. These are at least somewhat defensible for that reason, while the proposed Fed ramp does not meet even this low bar. But above all, this project is infuriating for its lack of care about the climate. Bad design can be corrected, greenhouse gas emissions stay emitted.

The proposed ramp is an egregious piece of fossil fuel infrastructure, just like an oil pipeline, but proposed for central city land. The token amenities proposed with the plan are greenwashing, like an oil derrick with a solar panel attached. The City of Minneapolis is committed to reducing emissions by 80% by 2050. It just passed a comprehensive plan that explicitly mentions the city’s carbon-reduction goals. Allowing this project to proceed would be completely incompatible with the city’s own objectives—not to mention the reason behind those objections, the long-term health and safety of the public.

Supporting this project is a either a sign of ignorance, or of honest-to-goodness climate denialism. I accept that some people just don’t care, but I hope that all of the people in the former category can be inspired to write to the cityand their elected representatives to express their opposition.

Here’s why this project is so bad, in two parts:

1. More Parking Leads To More Driving…

Among transportation planning professionals, there is almost no dispute on this point. Research from 1992 showed that employer-subsidized parking resulted in significant increases in driving commutes (this is a link to a PDF download, don’t be alarmed, I’m not trying to give your computer a virus). A 2001 study found that travelers were responsive to increases in parking price or decreases in parking supply, changing their mode of travel or changing the time of their travel to adjust. A 2008 examination (later expanded upon in 2011) of neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens showed that whether or not a person had a private parking space at home was a significant factor in whether or not they drove to work. In 2014, researchers determined that providing free parking at work was the single most compelling transportation incentive that an employer could provide, but that absent that option, employees were far more likely to chose alternative modes of getting to work.

In 2016, a group of researchers with the University of Connecticut traced the strongest causal link yet between provision of parking and amount of driving. The researchers identified comparable mid-sized American cities, collected high-resolution aerial imagery from the 1950’s, 1980’s, and 2000’s, and estimated the amount of parking each city. They then compared the amounts of parking in each city with the trends of driving. The results showed a strong correlation between the amount of parking that was built and the amount of driving that occurred. The cities that built more parking experienced more driving.

Why does this occur? It’s due to induced demand. This principle, which also explains why adding more lanes to a highway doesn’t fix congestion, is maybe best explained as the idea that reducing the cost of something results in more people doing it. The cost can be a price, it can be time, or it can be frustration. If you know that there will be a parking space available for you at your destination, you will factor that into your decision of how to get there. But if you know that the nearest parking space to your destination might be three blocks away, and you have to find it, and you have to compete with others looking for the same thing, and you’ll have to have a bunch of quarters or your credit card handy to pay for it—you might reconsider.

In a Washington Post article about the 2016 study, Emily Badger gives a good personal example about how this works:

It is a firm principle in my household that we will not, under almost any circumstance, get in the car after sundown on Friday or Saturday night. We won’t pick you up at the airport, or drive to dinner at your house. We won’t just run out to the grocery store, or partake of social events unreachable by foot or bike, or a short Uber.

We live off H Street in Washington with its bars and restaurants and performing arts, and if we drive away in the evening, when we get back there will simply be nowhere to park. We would behave, no doubt, a lot differently if parking were not an issue. We would probably take more trips.

Scale up this logic, and it’s reasonable to think that parking on a much larger scale induces more driving across cities.

Minnesota gets a big demonstration of the effect of parking scarcity every year in late summer during the State Fair. Nearly two million people from around the state visit the fair, with a daily attendance record of over 260,000. There’s a big parking lot at the state fairgrounds, but it’s nowhere near big enough to accommodate crowds like that. So every year, hundreds of thousands of people who ordinarily drive the entire rest of the year instead meet up and take special buses to the fair and back. It’s the biggest public transit event in the state, it prevents massive amount of tailpipe emissions, and it happens because parking is scarce and so people find other ways to travel.

Workers at the Minneapolis Fed could find other ways to get to work as well. It’s a frequent gripe that transit service to the North Loop is not adequate, and that’s true. But the Fed is located on Hennepin Avenue, within shouting distance of the core CBD. Directly outside the building are stops for the 4, 6, 7, 11, 61 and 824 buses. Two blocks away are stops for the 14, 667, 672, and 674. A ten minute walk away is a light rail station, and within that radius are dozens of other buses. The Cedar Lake Trail runs behind the building, with connections to the River Road and Kenilworth Trail. Well within the lifetime of this ramp, light rail service will be extended to the southwest suburbs and maybe to the northwest as well, a BRT service to the southern suburbs will open, and multiple rapid bus lines will begin service with stops nearby.

The Fed is not building this ramp because there are no other options to accommodate the travel demand of their employees. They are almost certainly building the ramp because the organization’s leadership (who, are demographically more likely to drive) have a “windshield mentality.” They drive and park, and they hear complaints from their immediate staff about the costs of driving and parking. They don’t hear as many complaints about transit (and don’t consider why that makes sense—they don’t run the transit system!) But demand for parking is not a constant that must be met, it is a highly elastic variable that can be manipulated. Providing a lot more convenient parking is a choice, not an obligation, and the research shows unequivocally that it is certain to only increase the incidence of driving, to the detriment of the planet.

2. … And More Driving Leads To More Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Now, And In the Future)

I think most people understand quite clearly that cars emit greenhouse gases, and that’s a contributor to climate change. But what’s less well-known is are two things; the scale of the problem, and the limitations of new technologies in solving it.

First, transportation emissions have become the leading source of greenhouse gases in the United States, as well as in Minnesota. While emissions from other sectors, especially power generation, have fallen, emissions from increased transportation have significantly wiped out those savings. The same story is also true in Minnesota. No city, state, or country can meet their climate goals without reducing the emissions from the transportation sector, and that largely means reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as much as possible, as soon as possible. In California, the state’s Air Resources Board estimates that means that to meet the state’s goals by 2030, every resident of the state must reduce their driving by 1.6 miles per day. That may sound small, but that adds up across a population. For many people that might represent one trip to the grocery store, but few people make that trip daily. Cutting out a solo driving commute is far more direct.

Second, while most people recognize the harm caused by our current fleet of cars, many often look towards electric vehicles (EVs) as a potential savior. It’s certainly true that EVs have a big role to play in a more sustainable future. But they are far from a panacea. For one, even optimistic estimates of their adoption expect that it will take decades for most of the cars in the world to turn over. This matters because, for one, we are not studying for a test in the future, we are taking that test right now. Carbon we put in the atmosphere today matters just as much as carbon we put in the atmosphere in ten years. While we’re waiting around for EVs to save us, we’ll cook the planet all the same.

But EVs have other impacts. For instance, every new electric car means more demand for electricity. While utilities are making remarkable progress at adding new renewable sources of energy, some of those gains are being swallowed up by new demand. This is all while demand for power to charge vehicles is a fraction of what it would be if every current car owner was plugged in. If rapid adoption of EVs forces utilities to keep coal plants in operation to meet all of that new demand, then the benefit to the climate from EVs will be massively diminished. Another issue is the emissions created by manufacturing. Electric cars will require batteries that use metals extracted in environmentally damaging ways, and will be produced through a global supply chain that is also a huge source of emissions. Some of the materials in new cars, especially plastics, are especially carbon-intensive to produce. Reducing driving right now might allow cars on the road today to last longer, which will slow adoption of EVs, but will come out as a net benefit because fewer cars will be manufactured.

What Can Be Done Instead?

The evidence is unequivocal that building more parking will result in more driving. The evidence is unequivocal that more driving will lead to more carbon emissions, both now and even in a more technologically advanced future. At this moment, readers can take action on this knowledge. They can write to the city and your elected official, demanding that they deny the variance requests to build this parking ramp, and act to prevent similar proposals from emerging in the future. All residents of Minneapolis should do this, but as always, neighbors of the project are given special consideration by officials, and so they should speak up the loudest. Any path forward starts with acknowledgement of the problem, and immediate action to address this imminent threat.

But let’s next imagine a world where the climate data prevails, and the Fed either withdraws the plan or the city rejects it. What should the Fed do to address the transportation concerns of their employees?

They can start with turning the budget for this project into more productive use. The proposed parking ramp would hold 800 spaces. The latest data suggests the cost to build a single structured parking space in Minneapolis is somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000. So let’s assume the cost of this ramp would be in the ballpark of $16 million. Remember that the current surface lot holds 300 cars, meaning that the project would result in a net gain of 500 spaces. That’s $32,000 per new space. What if the Fed took that amount and use it to pay 500 Federal Reserve employees to shift their commuting mode from a private car to something else? They could offer an incentive of $3,200 per year, to the first 500 employees who applied, for ten years. Or perhaps they could simply pay the full cost of transit passes for 500 employees. A monthly pass on Metro Transit at the rush hour fare costs $120/mo, or $1,440/year. The Fed could sustain this program for over twenty-two years at the current rate. (The Fed’s current transit subsidy is paltry compared to the subsidy they are planning on providing to drivers by building this ramp.)

The Fed could also juice their commuter incentive funds even further by selling the property or developing it themselves into a more lucrative use than a parking structure. This is a valuable parcel, adjacent to the river, in the North Loop, and close to the CBD. The parcel is large enough to accommodate multiple buildings and hundreds of homes, including some that could be occupied by Fed employees, who would then walk to work. Or the Fed could make even more money for Uncle Sam, by negotiating with another federal entity, the Post Office, to establish a joint parking strategy for all of their employees. The goal of such a strategy would be to eliminate the need for the post office’s ramp at the eastern corner of 1st St and Hennepin Ave, an even more valuable parcel than the one owned by the Fed. The construction of the Fed’s proposed ramp would become a far better proposition if it meant the demise of the Post Office ramp and its redevelopment as a residential tower, for instance.

I’d prefer that both parking areas be redeveloped and none of the spaces replaced, but let’s start by shooting for something better than this. There are far better options than the one proposed, which is quite near to the worst possible choice. That it was made by an organization of economists, who really ought to know better, makes it even more galling. But the positive side, I hope, is that there is an opportunity for the data to come out and the tradeoffs to be made clear. That necessitates smart, informed, and passionate people to make their voices heard on this project, change its trajectory away from fossil fuel infrastructure towards climate mitigation, and use its emergence as an impetus to make sure there are no more repeats.

Alex Schieferdecker

About Alex Schieferdecker

Alex Schieferdecker is from New York City, lived in Minnesota for six years, and now lives in Philadelphia. He is still unhealthily invested in Twin Cities politics and development. Please help. His twitter handle is @alexschief.

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170 thoughts on “Why The Fed’s Proposed Parking Garage Is Terrible For The Climate

  1. Peter

    Really? The whole north loop area is booming with development. Surface lots and street parking are disappearing. A parking ramp is sorely needed. After the snowiest February in recent memory, riding my bicycle is not possible. We really need to get off this attitude of zero new parking for the City’s Central core. To maintain its health and vitality you have to have amenities like parking ramps for employees and visitors. Sorry not everyone has access to light rail or can ride a bike. Suggest you worry about what is going in in Philadelphia and let Minneapolis decide whats best for our City.

    1. Mike SonnMike Sonn

      This is a crass comment. And I highly doubt you actually bike because you’re attitude would be much different if you were out there battling on the streets regularly. Alex is well versed in the Twin Cities and just happens to live in Philadelphia, which you’d know if you read his MANY Streets pieces. He’s also well researched and has as provided a ton of links you should click on to get up to speed on city planning and the impacts of induced demand.

    2. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

      That’s not an accurate characterization of the downtown parking situation. There are multiple new parking garages underway in the North Loop- Shaffer Richardson built one on 3rd St S, and the one with the Foundry project. Further from the North Loop, there’s a new parking ramp under construction behind Thrivent, and another giant new parking ramp next to the “peoples’ stadium.” Not only are there these general parking projects, but there are thousands of new parking spots all over downtown in conjunction with new office, residential, and hotel projects. For example, Solaris is building a project with hundreds of parking spaces across the street from the Fed. Despite less surface parking and (two?) notable parking ramp demolitions, there’s still a huge increase in parking supply in a downtown already choked by peak traffic accessing existing parking supply.

      1. Monte Castleman

        These are all several blocks from the Fed, and don’t have a heated, air conditioned skyway connection.

          1. Julie Kosbab

            I am paying $25/month to park in the North Loop. Trust me, there’s not a parking crisis.

            Now, if we wish to discuss “property owners actually clearing their walks,” that is much closer to a crisis.

            1. Mike Goodman

              Your anecdotal evidence doesn’t match the current market rates for downtown parking ($156). Either your employer is subsidizing it drastically or your apartment/condo is undercharging you and should at minimum quintuple rates immediately.

      2. Brian

        If there is so much new parking going up why did many downtown parking ramps increase prices 20% or more shortly after the demolition of the parking ramp for the Minneapolis city office building was announced. Several co-workers decided to start taking transit after the price increases.

        1. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

          Brian, the experience of your co-workers is precisely why reducing parking downtown is likely to lead to reduced driving and a healthier climate. Your co-workers were in a position where they had the option to either drive or take transit. They were at the margin, and a small price change was enough to get them to change their behavior.

          Your co-workers experience is a feature, not a bug, and exactly why making parking more competitive downtown is good policy.

          1. Brian

            My co-workers who just switched to transit are taking Northstar. They are trading money for time as they spend at least 30 minutes per day walking to/from the train. You could argue they are getting exercise with the walk, but a lot of people need to get home to make dinner, pick up the kids, and so on.

          2. Brian

            My co-workers who just switched to transit are taking Northstar. They are trading money for time as they spend at least 30 minutes per day walking to/from the train. You could argue they are getting exercise with the walk, but a lot of people need to get home to make dinner, pick up the kids, and so on.

      3. Mike Goodman

        That’s not an accurate characterization either. Schafer’s new ramp isn’t downtown, check the DPO boundaries. The Foundry project is stalled and never included parking. And the Solaris (sp?) apartments have parking for residents and a small number of additional spaces for the Foundry project across the street….if it ever starts.

    3. Christa MChris Moseng

      I’m a Minneapolis resident, and I have and will continue to complain about this proposed ramp. It’s a wasteful use of valuable land. Five stories? Of Car Storage? Next to the river? No retail or housing?

      This ramp doesn’t cater to Minneapolis residents, it caters to suburbanites that want to drive.

      Fed employees wouldn’t need to park there if they took advantage of the booming North Loop development and live there. They sure won’t make that choice if we keep subsidizing their car dependency.

      1. Monte Castleman

        Do we know how many people that work at the Fed live in Minneapolis? Do we know how many of them that this would benefit because they drive cars to work?

        Everytime I drive I-35W in rush hour it seems the exits in Minneapolis are clogged with people in cars. Presumably these are mostly Minneapolis residents driving to and from downtown, and some of them are driving to and from the Fed.

        1. Monte Castleman

          Exits like 46th Street, 35th Street, etc, obviously not the downtown exits which are a mix of both people from Minneapolis and people from the suburbs. Probably a lot of people entering I-35W from Crosstown are from the city too, getting on at Penn or 24th Ave.

      2. Brian

        Not everyone wants to live on top of each other in tiny apartments for a bunch of money and deal with the noise of an apartment.

        1. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

          Given that developers are building a ton of apartments and yet the vacancy rate remains extremely low, it seems clear that many more people want to live in apartments than the current supply of apartments allows.

        2. Anon

          Downtown condo life is more spacious. Your time is uncluttered with a lengthy commute or home maintenance chores. Your bank account is larger due to all of the things that you didn’t buy to fill a large house. You can fill your modest space with guests you love and a few quality possessions that bring you joy. You will be healthier. The planet will be healthier. You will know more people and know more different people. In a condo, your life has more room for things that make life wonderful.

          And also, my middle-income condo has almost a foot of concrete for floors and ceilings, and 4 sheets of 5/8ths drywall separating the units. It is totally silent.

          1. Brian

            Your condo is unusual to be soundproofed so well. I rented a so-called luxury apartment in downtown in 1998 and it was wood framed with no soundproofing at all.

            My house is barely larger than a two bedroom condo so I don’t own a bunch of stuff to fill it up.

    4. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author


      I do wish you would engage with the data I presented. I’m not nuts, I do understand that you can’t just ban parking downtown tomorrow. But I’d argue first and foremost that the health and vitality of Minneapolis in the long term is fairly contingent on mitigating the effects of climate change.

      To restate myself, more parking leads to more driving, and more driving leads to more carbon emissions. If Minneapolis is to be a leading part of the solution to climate change, it must start with the principle of “first, do no harm.” This proposed ramp would do harm by adding a ton of new parking, and without the balm of a corresponding increase in uses.

      The long-term parking strategy in downtown Minneapolis must be to slowly reduce parking options commensurate with improvements in alternatives, like LRT, aBRT, hBRT, biking, and walking. Building an entirely new ramp that will last 30+ years is not in keeping with that strategy, and it is in direct violation of a couple of the city’s stated climate goals.

      I’m resigned to the fact that not every project will be like the under-construction City Club Apartments or Minneapolis City Office Building, both of which have no parking included. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to demand that no project be as explicitly bad and backwards-looking as this one.

      1. Elizabeth Larey

        I beg to disagree. You can’t ban cars as much as you want to. Businesses still have a right to provide onsite parking. Employees should not be expected to walk blocks in bad weather to get to the office. Why not put some energy into electric cars? Lots of people work in the suburbs, transit does not work for them. Thanks for the consideration

          1. Elizabeth Larey

            Because you would be spending billions of dollars. The twin cities is too spread out and they waited too long.

            1. Christa MChris Moseng

              Sounds like the suburbs bear a lot of responsibility for the climate situation. Maybe they should work on how they can be part of the solution instead of mandating parking facilities in other municipalities for their convenience.

              1. Elizabeth Larey

                It’s where people happen to live. Suburbs don’t mandate parking facilities anywhere. Living in the city is not for me and a lot of other people. If employers in the city do not have parking for their employees, they will find it pretty hard to hire. And cities need large employers, who do you think pays the big tax bills?

                1. Eric AnondsonEric Anondson

                  I happen to live in a (second ring?) suburb.
                  I choose to ride the bus to my job in downtown. It’s actually kinda awesome hot having to bother parking anywhere downtown and not have to pay attention to growing numbers of distracted highway drivers.

              1. Elizabeth Larey

                No, it’s that we need to get behind and fund electric cars. Seems like bikers don’t want to have that discussion. It’s always about banning cars and pushing transit. Electric cars solve the answer. Peeps can drive and we put the brakes on emissions. I understand and am happy biking works for you. It does for me in White Bear Lake too. But not into the downtowns.

                1. Julie Kosbab

                  I think looking to electric cars as a solution has a lot of limitations, and doesn’t do enough, quickly enough.

                  • electric cars sold today don’t do much to cut carbon emissions. Even if we ramp up renewable electricity quickly, there is still a 15 year timeline to replace fossil fuel plants.
                  • if we increase electric cars by 50%, this also increases electrical demand considerably, which also means “more fossil fuels.”
                  • if we really want to cut emissions, a transport plan must focus on cutting automobile use (transit, land use) rather than electric cars

                  This is before even mentioning that congestion issues do not decline if we just put people in electric cars.

                  1. Monte Castleman

                    There’s also nuclear power which emits zero carbon, which tends to be opposed by the same people that say we have a crisis with carbon emissions.

        1. Andrew

          Parking is a permitted land use, not a right. Just like the city can force businesses to provide parking, it can force them not to.

          People that work in the suburbs will drive to their jobs. They are not affected by this parking garage anyway.

          1. Elizabeth Larey

            People live in the suburbs and work in the city. Didn’t you read what I wrote? The city turns into a cold Omaha if they do not let major businesses ( and the Fed is a MAJOR business) provide onsite parking. It is replacing an existing parking lot, for cryin’ out loud!

        2. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

          I haven’t advocated for banning cars, I’ve advocated for making their use slightly less convenient and slightly more expensive, as a way to avert a planetary emergency. I walked a couple blocks in a freezing rain this morning to get from my home to the trolley and the trolley to work, and it was fine. A lot of people stood for hours in a snowstorm to hear a politician speak on Sunday. I have faith that Minnesotans are able to walk a few blocks in bad weather.

          Lots of people are putting energy into electric cars, but as my article explicitly points out, electric cars will not solve the issue alone, reductions in driving are still needed.

          Many people live in the suburbs, and that’s a choice that they made that the city should not be responsible for ameliorating. At any rate, transit also already goes into the suburbs, and is being expanded there at great expense, and I think many more people would be able to take transit to work if they were given incentives to do so.

          1. Mike SonnMike Sonn

            Sadly advocating for making [car] use slightly less convenient is seen as advocating for banning cars. We can’t have a sensible conversation without it going to Goodwin’s Law but for cars.

              1. Elizabeth Larey

                You are wrong on that. Electric cars are the answer. They have zero tail pipe emissions. They will use electricity from power plants. There are options with power plants. We are not going back to the Stone Age, sorry to disappoint. Anti-car people just need to admit they are anti car, and that opinion has nothing to do with climate change. They just don’t want cars around. That’s okay to have that opinion, but 99+ percentage of people disagree. So why not get behind electric cars and drastically reduce emissions? Just a thought

                1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                  Someday far down the road, electric cars will be an answer to the emissions problem with cars. We don’t really have time to wait, though.

                  They won’t be answer to the death and destruction problem with cars. Yes, someday even farther down the road there’s a chance that autonomous cars may address those issues.

                  Neither electric nor autonomous cars will ever be a solution to the space inefficiency problem with cars, though, and those problems kill cities. A city that wants to thrive needs to plan for people to be able to get around mostly without cars and leave those who want to drive everywhere in the suburbs.

                  1. Jeff L.

                    And yet they have already proven to be the answer to Norway’s climate change actions with over 30% of new vehicles sold being emission free and 100% expected by 2025. Just because you don’t see widespread use here doesn’t mean it isn’t feasible. We need real policy change that affects ICE vehicles. In many Norwegian cities, and around most of the country, there are heavy tolls for ICE vehicles but none for emission free vehicles.

                    The biggest issue you continue to run into in the US is the belief that a personal vehicle = personal freedom. Realistically you’re never going to change that, at least not in the short term. So while you can talk about policy changes affecting things on the edges as a way to dissuade vehicles downtown, you should be encouraging some type of realistic change that will encourage people to switch to an emissions free vehicle.

                    This is not a far off dream, and that is where Alex makes a critical flaw in his piece, it can easily be achieved in the short term. We need the EPA to reinstate the higher CAFE requirements for manufacturers, this will force technological changes. We need heavy taxes on ICE vehicles. We need increased transit options. While there are some routes that service their immediate location, it pales in comparison to the CBD. The North Loop is on the periphery and has been marginalized by Metro Transit for years and they’ve shown zero interest in changing that.

                    1. Julie Kosbab

                      The cars are emission free. The problem is that the US power grid is not. The electric for those electric cars is highly dependent on fossil fuel in this country. Acceleration of renewable and low-emissions energy sources is not at a pace to support rapid acceleration of electric vehicles at a net emissions loss.

                      Norway is further along a power migration than this country is. And with the current DOE and EPA, don’t expect major national investment or priority until there is leadership turnover.

                    2. Janne Flisrand

                      Speaking of Norway, they are dramatically reducing parking in downtown Oslo and have literally banned cars in the city center. Norway is doing what we need to do – reducing driving AND transitioning to electric vehicles.

                      Yes, we should follow Norway’s model.

                    3. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

                      Norway already operates almost entirely on hydro power, and has done so for years. That’s a feature of their geography that the US can’t just replicate at the drop of a hat.

                      But what you miss is that Norway is also aggressively reducing how much people have to drive. Oslo’s climate plan calls explicitly for reductions in VMT in their very first goals. They have recently banned car parking in the Oslo center, after aggressively putting the screws on them for years before.

                      Oh, and Norway is a country as enthralled by personal freedom as our own. They happen to have a much different (and logical, I think) conception of what that means. But their experience with cars shows that culture can be changed and EVs can be introduced. It’s not an either/or.

                    4. Elizabeth Larey

                      I have lived in Norway, so I feel I can offer something. The transit options are excellent. In the Twin Cities the options are not. I understand most of the peeps on this site live in the city. I am the odd duck that lives in WBL. Our options are not good. We have 4 streets to catch a bus. Thats it. So it seems like everyone on this site lives in the city. I wish it were better, but if i want to come into the city I have to drive. And if there is no parking (which is disappearing ) I just wont come. And thats okay. I can stay out here, I just really like the restaurants in the city. I have taken Lyft, but II had 2 bad experiences.

                    5. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      No one is forcing you to live in WBL, surely. If visiting the city is important to you, why shouldn’t you be the one to make a change rather than the city impoverish itself (via low value land use and huge amounts of space given over to cars)?

                      Also, we’re never going to get better transit by making sure it’s way easier to drive.

                2. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

                  Can you please read the article I wrote that addresses this exact issue?

                  If you disagree with the analysis, explain what you disagree with, instead of pretending it just doesn’t exist.

                  1. Elizabeth Larey

                    Okay i have been busy working, I will tomorrow. I am just depressed, because I was very hopeful about electric cars.

            1. Brian

              Driving becomes massively inconvenient when their is no parking available, or parking is priced so high that most can’t afford it. Do we really want drivers circling around in downtown just to find any parking at all?

              If someone has to come downtown for a court hearing during the day and they live in suburban Hennepin county they are unlikely to find transit that runs during the day unless they are near a blue line park and ride.

    5. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      Everyone who drives has access to light rail, buses and/or can ride a bike. It’s just that the incentives to drive all the way to the office are so strong that people don’t even spend a second on how to get there using them.

  2. Mike SonnMike Sonn

    This is also why I’m so upset w/ Ryan Co for wanting to double the amount of parking on the Ford Site. And Livables fully support it too while screaming about traffic out of the other side of their mouth. If you build parking, people will drive. Cars don’t just appear in parking spots.

  3. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

    I would love to see companies downtown more dramatically incentivize transit, maybe make bus passes free. That should go double for “public” agencies like the Fed.

  4. R

    riding my bicycle is not possible.

    Driving is never possible for me, and I walk all winter. It’s a vitality and health issue too: the city has long been ignoring people like me. What if we spent the massive glut of money for parking infrastructure on making sure that sidewalks are clear all winter? The sidewalks in my neighborhood aren’t clear, and I’m on a train line. Businesses ignore shoveling laws, and buildings that aren’t occupied have sidewalks that go unshoveled for weeks. Curb cuts are filled with snow, beg buttons are out of reach.

    If North Loop is slightly inaccessible due to lack of extremely convenient parking spaces, that pales in comparison to what people who walk and roll experience daily in this town.

  5. Elizabeth Larey

    More parking leads to more driving. Which is why I don’t go to Uptown anymore. It is very difficult to find a place to park. Two major chains closed last month, both cited lack of parking as an issue for them. I understand your desire to eliminate car emissions. The unfortunate fact is our transit systems sucks if you live in the burbs, where a lot of their employees live. They have a right to have parking on their site for their employees. I wish that people who write on this site understood how difficult it is to get in and out of either downtown from the suburbs. I have no interest in moving to the city. If the city continues to make it harder for businesses to provide parking for their employees and customers, they will continue to lose those businesses.

    1. Christa MChris Moseng

      That’s weird, because North Face also closed a store on Grand Avenue where business owners got their way by blocking metered parking, and Columbia just said ““In reviewing our portfolio of stores, we determined that the Uptown Minnesota location no longer fits with our strategic direction.”

      Businesses open, businesses close. This sort of “the parking caused it” anecdata is rarely supported by evidence.

      In any event this comment doesn’t address the author’s primary point which is that driving exacerbates the climate disaster, and parking exacerbates driving. The climate disaster is also bad for business, especially fancy coat retailers…

      1. Brian Elfert

        Are you sure you don’t really mean you want businesses to move out downtown to places where they can find employees? I am a realist who realizes there are people who drive to work and will just move to a suburban job if they can’t park downtown.

        My employer moved a small group of employees from the North Loop (with parking) to the core of downtown recently. One person quit before the move because they didn’t want to deal with commuting downtown. Others have quit since then although I don’t know if the move was the reason. The employees who drive saw their monthly expenses increase over $100 a month.

        1. Adam

          My employer moved a small group of employees from the core of downtown to the north loop recently, and every single person quit.

          The employees who don’t drive would have had their daily commutes increase by 200-300% (or, in one case, would have had to buy a car, so their monthly expenses would increase by >$550).

        2. Elizabeth Larey

          AMEN and thanks for saying this. The anti-car folks live in the city and think the suburbs suck. You have transit options in the city. There are very few in the burbs, and nobody is going to walk a half a mile twice a day to get on a bus. If you jack the price of driving int the city and eliminate parking, people will get jobs elsewhere. Like a suburb or a different city. Newly released data states local corporations are having a hard time getting qualified candidates to relocate to MSP. Guess why? Ding ding ding, yes the weather. So you think these peeps will walk to a bus stop? Think again

          1. Jen

            Lots of people walk half a mile twice a day to get on a bus, including me. Please stop making unfounded assertions.

            1. Elizabeth Larey

              Maybe peeps in the city do. Nobody I know who works downtown and lives outside of the cities takes it. Light rail is not on our side of town. And in all probability never will be. Transit in the suburbs is horrible if you work downtown. I wish it were better.

              1. Jen

                Again, please stop making unfounded assertions. I neither work nor live downtown, and I walk to the bus every day. So do many people I know.

                1. Elizabeth Larey

                  Come on out to White Bear Lake sometime and try to find a bus stop. They are on a couple of major routes. There are many streets where you would walk well over a mile to get there. Not everybody is in great health and can do it. This is reality, and most of the peeps who are for eliminating single transportation live in the city. I’m just being honest. I bike and walk all the time in WBL. I just can’t get to the core cities that way. I wish I could

                  1. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

                    Nobody is for eliminating cars. Everyone understands that cars are here to stay, in some form or another.

                    But there are many many people who have the option to not drive, but who drive anyway because it is more convenient and heavily subsidized. Given the negative externalities of car travel, I and many others are arguing against subsidizing cars further, and instead better-pricing car travel to accurately reflect its societal cost.

                    To repeat: nobody is calling for eliminating cars. You are arguing against a strawman.

                  2. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                    I’m fairly sure I have a colleague who lives in WBL and takes the bus to work. Presumably she uses a park and ride, although I’ve never asked.

                    The one thing you can definitely do on transit from where you live is get to the core city during commuting hours, but you may need to use more than one mode to do it.

                2. Elizabeth Larey

                  Please google bus service in White Bear Lake. Unless you live close to the few major routes, you could walk miles to get to a bus. So your comment is true if you are willing to walk miles to a get one. Very few are willing to add that amount of time ( and hassle ) to take a bus in.

        3. Adam MillerAdam Miller

          You mean people respond to incentives?

          There is no easier place to commute without a car than downtown. Lots of people are already doing it. Some would rather quit than change? Oh well.

          1. Tim

            Sure, people respond to incentives. So do employers. Right now a lot of them want to be in downtown. But that could change, and if they were incented to leave, it would hurt the city.

            This particular parking ramp isn’t going to change the status quo. It’s a bizarre hill to die on and a hardline, no-compromises approach isn’t going to make things better. People seem to be upset about it based on principle rather than practicality.

              1. Tim

                It’s a surface lot now. If the ramp is not built, it remains a surface lot, and likely won’t change as long as the Fed is located where it is. We’re not talking about demolishing perfectly good commercial or residential buildings to create parking (which I agree would be bad).

                Yes, it will have more spaces than before, but that just means it may prevent more parking from being created elsewhere, or make it easier to reduce parking in other locations. There are benefits to concentrating parking in certain locations, as it allows for different land use elsewhere.

                1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                  One issue is the opportunity cost of using this land this way. If it stays a surface lot, we don’t lose the option of doing something better with it in the future.

                  But I’d definitely think differently about this were it directly tied to fewer spaces elsewhere. Not sure how that would work, though.

                  1. Stephanie

                    Realistically we’ve already lost the option of converting this surface lot to residential. The time to fight was before the sale was finalized, I just don’t see the Fed ever letting go of this property.

                    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      I actually don’t know what power the city has to say yes or no, but I’m pretty sure there’s no way to stop a sale of land between private entities.

                    2. Tim

                      Pretty much. It’s going to be some type of parking as long as the Fed is there. It’s just a question of what form it takes.

      2. Cobo R

        If it were harder to get to downtown by car it would lower the presence of big employers. Downtown needs as much access as it can get to be vibrant. Don’t underestimate how important suburban employees and patrons are to downtown.

        I believe that Climate change is real and we need to do something. But the holy’er than thou attitude is really starting to piss me off. Not everyone has access or the TIME! to take the existing transit or the time & health necessary to bike.

        And this is about a parking ramp replacing a surface lot, not building a coal power plant. Hyperbole isn’t going to change that fact.

        1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

          Yeah, that’s exactly backward. If ease of driving was key to employer decisions, none of them would be downtown in the first place. That they’ve chosen to be in the single hardest place to drive to should tell you that there are other benefits that offset that hardship.

          You can either have a downtown that is easy to drive in and out of, or one where people want to have spend time. If you have the latter, you’re going to have people and employers.

          1. Elizabeth Larey

            I think you should take a road trip to every major metropolitan city in the United States. Every downtown is packed with all sorts of different types of transportation. I just got back from San Francisco. Bus, cable car, a gazzilion Lyft and Uber, and a ton of cars. Parking is really expensive. Peeps park anyway. Employers pay more. Mpls is not going to go car free, it’s just reality. It took me 45 min to get in from the airport and 15 to get out on Sunday morning. Same same every big city

            1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

              You really like to argue against that straw man, don’t you?

              No one is arguing that downtown should go car free, or even can go completely car free. It should, however, be reducing the subsidies to drive (at minimum) and encouraging the use of other modes of transportation.

              Meanwhile, the current discussion is about whether the city should be okay with a project that will make it much more accommodating to cars. If it has a means of avoiding that (I don’t know if it does), it should.

              But speaking of San Francisco, they tore out a freeway, thus making it harder to drive!, and got a revived Embarcadero neighborhood where it used to be.

              While we’re suggesting travel, check out what Paris, London and Barcelona have been doing recently to reduce the harm from cars. Check out what New York did in Times Square. Or for some ancient history, check out what Amsterdam did decades ago.

              1. Elizabeth Larey

                I was in Norway in May. See another comment from someone re electric cars in Norway. They are doing the same in Finland. The car is not going away, so it makes sense that an emissions free car is the answer, along with good transit options. For those of us with crappy transit options, it makes total sense. I am hanging on to my Volvo wagon until the new electric comes out.

                1. Julie Kosbab

                  The energy for those cars is not low-emissions, however. And that’s the problem. It’s just pushing the problem around. It’s hiding the laundry in the cupboard while guests are over, but the socks still smell.

                  1. Jeff L.

                    Except it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of renewable energy sources available that we should be pursuing. Walking away from emission free vehicles and claiming they won’t work because of our current grid isn’t an answer, it’s showing a problem that we need to address.

                  2. Jenny WernessJenny WernessModerator  

                    Yeah, this is the critical point. Even if we had fully emission free cars, charging them still causes significant emissions. It is not a solution. It is (possibly) a slightly less terrible step than producing more internal combustion engine cars, but it’s still terrible for the climate.

                    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      Right. Today and in the foreseeable future in this country, it’s slightly less terrible, not good.

                      And yes, we need to do all of the things Jeff is talking about, but we also need to be realistic about the timelines and realize that all of those things are beyond the control of the city.

                  3. Elizabeth Larey

                    That is simply not true. Every electric car emits zero emissions. You can state they use electricity, so then you could say something about power plants. Nuclear power emits none. No air pollution no carbon dioxide. So please do not make statements that are not factual.

                    1. Elizabeth Larey

                      You want everything the way you want it. We get rid of car emissions, not good enough becasue we get nuclear waste. Here is my issue with the bike/walk/ anything but car community. You have a very narrow view of your “utopia”. Just admit you want to get rid of single modes of transportation. The overwhelming majority of people disagree. I thought, at the very least, promoting electric cars would be perfect. But no, it is rejected by bike/walk/mass transit group. Your way or the highway. I give up, I’ll stop responding. Every time someone disagrees with the writers, they get beaten down until they give up. So keep writing to each other.

                    2. Julie Kosbab

                      My point is that electric cars get rid of vehicular emissions by increasing other emissions and social costs.

                      Everything has a price, and there is not a single solution that allows everyone to keep their cars, their golf courses, and their lawns while keeping the planet from burning 50 years from now.

                      You also want things the way you want them: A car, a house in the suburbs, a fast commute to a relatively distant employment.

                    3. Elizabeth Larey

                      You raise some good points. I do drive to parking on University and take light rail into the Mpls downtown for sports. I bike and walk all over white bear when I can. I have to drive to teach (golf). I try very hard to limit car trips, but there are so many places you can’t go on transit when you live in the suburbs. I’ve always lived here ( since I moved here in 78 ) and I don’t want to live in the cities. I’m semi-retired so I don’t go as much as I used to. I was really excited about electric cars when I was in Norway. They are so far ahead of us. I thought this would solve most of the problems with emissions.

                    4. Julie Kosbab

                      In general, electric cars ARE much better for emissions. The problem starts kicking in when electric car adoption outpaces increases in renewable electrical production.

                      My major concern, overall, is that a lot of people present electric cars as the only change required. Realistically, we need to be reducing vehicle miles traveled overall as a companion piece. We also need to all better understand the many subsidies provided to vehiclular travel, as they have been in place and are hidden. These range from the cost of building roads and bridges, to fossil fuel subsidy, to the bailouts of vehicle manufacturers, to allowing greater subsidy for parking than we do for transit or cycling. If someone bikes and doesn’t need a shower or a locker, they should be able to access similar funds as used to “buy” parking for employees for emergency rides home, or to buy Cheetos, I don’t care, but some form of financial equity.

                    5. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      Drive your electric car all you want as long as it’s powered by wind and solar. Just don’t insist that we need to kill the city to accommodate your occasional drives in.

                2. Janne Flisrand

                  re: that comment on Norway – they are drastically reducing parking in the core of Oslo (the North Loop of their city), and also literally banning cars. It’s true they are also heavily incentivizing electric cars, but they know that to achieve their goals, that’s not enough. They also need to reduce the miles people drive. People love the new car-free city center, and business has increased.

                  1. Elizabeth Larey

                    Forgot to mention that, yes it was nice. If you’ve been there, you know there transit system is awesome! You really can get to and from easy without a car, even from the burbs. That’s not true in Mpls/St Paul. Wish is were.

                  2. Elizabeth Larey

                    I lived in Norway for 4 years. I loved it. Their transit is awesome. Ours is not. And that is the problem, you can’t get around in the Twin cites (if you live in the suburbs) if you do not have a car. If we had the transit options Oslo had ( where Iivied ) and I was out in the suburbs, it would be perfect.
                    So I really have no options to get into Mpls or ST Paul unless I drive. Tha is the reality, honestly

              2. Elizabeth Larey

                The good news is the city will not stop the sale of the land. Nor will they stop the Federal Reserve from building a parking ramp where a parking lot was. I’m not trying to argue with you, rather I am trying to point out the absurdity of your arguement.

                1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                  The land sale already happened.

                  The absurdity is pretending like people don’t respond to incentives and thus policy should ignore them (and instead hope for imaginary electric cars with zero emission footprints).

                  1. Elizabeth Larey

                    Adam, very few people will walk in the freezing cold and hot summer to get to a bus stop. I don’t care what you offer them. Did you bother to look at the stops in White Bear Lake? 4 streets, that’s it. Money doesn’t matter for most people i know when it comes to commuting. And don’t ignore stops needed on the way home, kids to pick up etc. Mass transit works if you’re single and in decent shape. And the severe climate we live in doesn’t matter either. So give it up

                    1. Elizabeth Larey

                      Adam I’m not sure why you are allowed to say we don’t need you in our city. It’s obvious you have a lot of disdain for anyone who dares to offer a different opinion than yours. I signed up for this blog to get new ideas and learn things, not to be insulted by a contributor.

                    2. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      We’ve spent decades designing the city in the hope of enticing people who live in the suburbs to come downtown. It was a total failure. The city does not need people who insist that it be like a suburb. It should be a city for the people who want to be in a city if anyone in the suburbs doesn’t like it, that’s fine. We don’t need those people.

                    3. Mary

                      Be better, Adam. This is not the person I knew at the FJC. Telling people they don’t belong in ‘your’ city is disappointing to hear.

                  2. Elizabeth Larey

                    And I guess Tesla is an imaginary car. And I guess GM lied when they said the future of their company is electric cars. And I guess everyone who writes on electric cars is lying when they say zero emissions. Do you read anything outside of a few websites?

                    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

                      There are point-source and non point source emissions. Carbon emissions associated with a car are not just from the tailpipe, but also from the production of the car, the production of energy used by the car, etc.

                    2. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      Yes, anyone who is claiming that today, an electric car is zero emissions is lying. Today, a bunch of that electricity comes from burning coal and gas, which generate emissions.

  6. Pine SalicaNicole Salica

    This post is completely accurate and I personally thank you for it… I had trouble writing to the planning commission because I kept needing to go back and take out the expletives, now I can just send this for all future review stages. Yay!

  7. jf

    “That it was made by an organization of economists, who really ought to know better” – you really shouldn’t be buying in to the idea that economists are Rational Agents with perfect information. Economics schools are culture factories just like any other humanity/social studies department, they just happen to be in vogue right now. Aspirations to objectivity and scientific truth are just bluster, the same you heard from Freudians when that was popular.

    1. Anon

      Doctors don’t design hospital parking lots. Ballplayers don’t design stadium parking ramps. Federal reserve bankers/economists don’t design their own parking lots either. I don’t see the hypocrisy unless the fed has stated goals of reducing emissions.

      JF’s attacks a cartoon-villain version of economists then digresses into attacks on humanities, liberal arts, and Freudians.

      1. jf

        Sorry I didn’t mean to attack social studies, humanities, or liberal arts. I think these schools are undervalued in our society. My point was that these other less-powerful schools of thought do not make the same claim to objectivity and rational thinking as economists do.

        Contrary to the partial statement I quoted, I wouldn’t expect economists to “know better” about transportation policy. In fact I might expect them to know less because their current high status depends on the popular ideological framework that requires mass overconsumption, which is indeed related to our typical critique of transportation policy.

  8. Lisa Anderson

    Fletcher had some interesting things to say about the ramp, including that it will have solar panels on the roof.

    1. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

      You don’t have to build a parking ramp to put solar panels at this location. You could put those panels on a building with a productive use as well. The solar panels, bike and ped improvements and landscaping are an obvious example of greenwashing.

  9. Serafina ScheelSerafina Scheel

    I really hate this project. I swear, one of the reasons cities that build more parking experience more driving is that large parking structures make it so much more miserable to get around by any means other than a car. It’s awful walking down those downtown streets hearing “Caution: Car Approaching” over and over again. It’s dangerous biking in areas where there are parking ramp entrances and exits because drivers are only ever looking out for other motor vehicles.

    Even when there’s reasonable public transportation to a destination in the suburbs, I rarely take it because it’s so unpleasant having to weave through an ocean of SUVs to get from the transit stop at the far side of a parking lot to get the destination.

    The Fed’s just putting lipstick on a pig with solar panels and yet another private “park.” If the City can’t say no to a damn parking ramp next to the most amazing river in the nation it should hang its head in shame and infamy. Our residents and environment deserve better.

    1. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

      I hope you’ll write to CPED and your city council representative to share these thoughts!

  10. Scott

    Great post.

    I’m curious to know whether the existing raps, one adjacent to the USPS and the other behind Maverick apartments, are filled during the day. They are so close and seem like an option for those who “need” to drive to the Fed and park their cars nearby. How about those giant A, B, & C ramps. My understanding is that there is plenty of room there, and it’s only about 1/2 mile to walk.

    It is so weird that it seems obvious to many that $16 million to construct a building for the sole purpose of storing cars is considered a necessity. People must park immediately adjacent to whereever they are going, and that it has to be connected by a climate-controlled sky bridge. Has it really become a thing that workers cannot be expected to walk 5 downtown blocks outdoors in the winter?

    1. Julie Kosbab

      My understanding is that the USPS ramp is not an option due to operational things or somesuch.

      ABC Ramps are a bit more of a haul, but they could probably do a peoplemover for a long time for less than $16 million.

    2. Monte Castleman

      “Only” a half mile to walk.

      It doesn’t sound like much until you’re doing it twice a day, every day, in the blistering sun (presumably business clothes instead of t-shirts), bone-chilling cold like we had last week, the snow and the rain. You can park a lot closer than a half mile away at just about any company in the suburbs.

      I doubt the Fed is going to consider immediately moving to the suburbs if they’re need for parking is denied, but it might be something they’d consider if they ever need a new building.

      1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

        Man, if walking a mile every day is considered too much exertion, we are really going to pot.

        I used to walk a mile and a half each way in the DC summer humidity, after finally realizing that driving it was killing me.

  11. Jenny WernessJenny WernessModerator  

    Thank you for writing this post, it’s an excellent overview of the project. I’m astonished they’re planning to build this, especially at such a crucial time for our planet.

  12. Monte Castleman

    Because you can tolerate riding on a nonstop express bus one day a year doesn’t mean you’re willing to ride a regular bus 5 days a week.

    How would the Fed police the $3200 offer to not drive when you could just take the money and then continue driving and parking somewhere else, displacing that parking spot. And would you be able to get 500 people that were both willing and able shift modes in exchange for a free transit pass? Google tells me the Fed has “over 1000 employees”, some of which presumably already use transit.

    “Supporting this project is a either a sign of ignorance, or of honest-to-goodness climate denialism”

    Or else you realize that this one parking ramp is going to make no practical difference in climate change.

    1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      I’ve got mixed feelings on the ramp, but the “no practical difference” comment..

      Pouring one can of used motor oil into Minnehaha Creek won’t make any practical difference in global water quality. But like… obviously that’s a bad idea. Obviously that has negative local impacts. Obviously that’s part of the problem.

      Other than maybe a binding international cap-and-trade agreement, no one change has a “practical difference” to global climate change. The problem — and a solution if we get there — are millions of tiny things.

    2. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

      I have no idea how many they could get to sign up. My point is that they could try upping their offer quite a bit before coming close to the amount of money they are likely planning on spending to build this ramp.

      As for the “why do anything at all?” argument, I think you’re smart enough to know how silly it is. I never claimed that not building this ramp would save the planet, and there is no silver bullet. We need a full court press, doing everything we can. When facing an issue like climate change, the least we can do is to not senselessly make things worse.

  13. Adam MillerAdam Miller

    It’s amazing that people are defending this project, which is objectively terrible. At minimum, we shouldn’t be building stand-alone parking structures on valuable, river-adjacent downtown land. Just basic appreciation of the value of space demands that this land be used for something more than parking only. You don’t have to care about the planet or climate change or think cars are bad to realize that, at minimum, this space should, at least, be used for something in addition to car storage.

    Even the barest concern for the future of humanity might lead you to be opposed to the car storage too, but still.

    1. Brian

      Would you support the project if the parking was completely underground and had affordable apartments above ground? I bet a lot would still be against it just because of adding parking.

      1. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

        Yeah, that would obviously be better, I’m not sure it’s still good enough, but it would be a serious improvement.

        1. Monte Castleman

          I kind of wonder how much of the building they use, and how much it would cost to duplicate what they use in the suburbs vs the value of their prime real estate. I assume they have vaults for physical money and stuff but how much check processing do they do compared to when they built it. I

          If people are so opposed to them building the parking needed for their employees downtown, what if they moved to a plot of land in Shakopee where they could provide their employees with plenty of parking and the existing block could be redeveloped for yet another luxury apartment tower.

          1. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

            I think you’re giving “we NEED this parking” far more credibility than it deserves. I thought in the article that I provided a good amount of in-depth research showing that parking demand is not fixed, but actually a variable that can be manipulated. If you disagree with the conclusions of those scholars, make that argument, but don’t just jump past it as if it doesn’t exist.

            There’s a lot of grey area in between “don’t build this 800 space parking ramp” and “well, you’ve left us no choice but to move to Shakopee.” In the article, I put forward several suggestions of what the Fed could do instead to meet the commuting travel demand of their employees (and save some money too).

            It should go without saying that the Fed moving out of the city core would be extremely nuts (no Fed branch is located out of their principle city) and would cost a whole lot more money, and cause huge problems for the Fed employees who currently do not drive to work.

            1. Brian

              I’ve read the article at least three times and I don’t see where you offer any alternative to building a parking ramp other than have employees take transit.

              I take transit downtown every day and it is anything but convenient. You end up freezing to death because two buses in a row simply never showed like happened recently, or you end up like yesterday getting crushed on a sideways seat up against the back of a regular seat.

              1. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker Post author

                I suggested the Fed and USPS work out a sharing agreement for the lots they currently own downtown.

                Your second paragraph makes an argument for better transit, not for a parking garage.

          2. Christa MChris Moseng

            For 16 million they could build a market rate housing unit for about 60 of their employees and literally GIVE it to them for free. I wonder how many people would hate city living with that sort of an offer on the table.

            Or they could do something more rational and build even more housing on that space and recover most of those costs but still subsidize the housing. People respond to incentives, and I think you’d see a lot of Fed employees who became quite comfortable with the idea of living within a block of work and ditching the car when properly incentivized. Enough, even to make up for the “loss” of parking on the site.

            The point being that this is money and land that could be better spent, even by the Fed for the Fed’s stated purposes. It’s just a lack of imagination.

            1. Elizabeth Larey

              I think you’re serious. Why pick on the Fed? Why not take every piece of commercial property that comes up downtown for affordable housing? Every Federal Reserve in the United States is in the city. For a reason. That’s where the government buildings are.

              1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                Every piece of commercial property downtown should be used for residential, retail and/or commercial uses and not just parking. That’s the point.

                The Fed is the one proposing something else.

            2. Monte Castleman

              I know I still would hate city living even in a free condo. Just because something’s free doesn’t make it desirable. But assume they do that and I’m sure they would find 60 takers. You still have the issue of parking for 740 other people.

                1. Monte Castleman

                  Well, 4/5ths of the people in the metro don’t live in the cities, and even with some of them want to but can’t, which the real estate prices suggests, it would seem most of these still live in the suburbs by choice.

                  Obviously that leaves lot of people that do like living in a city condo and I don’t doubt 60 other people would take a free city condo. Just that I wouldn’t and I question how many people that already chose a single family detached house in the suburbs would.

                  Obviously I bought my house because it was the family house, But if that wasn’t an option I still would have bought a different house, even if a free condo was available downtown (or anywhere else). Life is too short to not like the place you’re living in if you can avoid it.

            3. Brian

              A similar argument is made that you could lease every light rail rider a new car for 20 to 30 years for what Southwest LRT will cost.

              1. Julie Kosbab

                Does that argument account for the subsidies for car use, including road construction and the $20B in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry annually?

                I think a key point in discussions about the parking garages and gas taxes and etc. etc. is that the use of low occupancy vehicles is hugely subsidized.

                1. Brian

                  Both ideas are equally ridiculous. The Federal Reserve is not going to offer free housing to employees and taxpayers are not going to lease thousands of cars and offer them free to transit riders.

                  I have no issue with Southwest light rail other than I think they could have picked a better route.

  14. Jack

    I can’t believe they would put a five-story parking garage right next to the river. What a ridiculous idea.

  15. Andrew Evans

    Parking around the North Loop is terrible, and will get worse with time. The ramp, or at least a public lot, will be a welcome addition for those of us who visit some of the shops and restaurants in the area. Can’t comment about workers using it, but I thought that along with the Fed there are a few other commercial buildings close, and I’m sure there is enough daytime demand to make the lot worthwhile.

    1. Andrew Evans

      Also I had thought that they (city or park board) were planning a expansion or more amenities by the river. This lot would be in a great location to give more people access to the south side of the river, and to whatever is being planned.

  16. commissar

    here’s the problem: the north loop has okay transit service, but how do you get to that transit? it doesn’t go where the people are!

    1. Julie Kosbab

      There is literally a bus stop every block on the Hennepin side of the Fed, including at the very corner. There are also multiple stops on the cross street at 1st.

      I work not far from there, and many of my coworkers walk from the Target Field Transit Station, or from Nicollet.

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