Last August I wrote More thoughts on the detrimental effects of large urban parking lots after hearing the news that a current surface level lot at Drayton and Charlton in downtown Savannah looks to become semi-permanent.
I didn’t know at the time that there was a vibrant discussion about the same topic at the Metro Jacksonville website: Surface Parking Lots: A Downtown Vibrancy Killer
The post has a great collection of aerial photographs that dramatically show the empty spaces in Jacksonville and other cities across America. The preface to that gallery:
According to Downtown Vision (DVI), more than 50% of downtown Jacksonville’s streetscape consists of “dead space” – either parking lots, garages, vacant buildings, or buildings less than 25% occupied. This collection of aerials visually highlight the impact dead spaces (surface parking and underutilized vacant property) in downtown Jacksonville and a number of cities across North America have. Naturally, those with the least amount of surface lots tend to be the most vibrant pedestrian-scale environments.
Go take a look at the photos. It’s pretty striking.
There are no aerial photos of Savannah, although there is one of pedestrian activity on River Street. Savannah is mentioned in a complimentary way a couple of times in the extensive and interesting comments from readers.
But as I noted in my post from last August and in a City Talk column that is linked there, Savannah has many underutilized vacant parking lots, especially as one gets out on the fringes of downtown. I live within a stone’s throw of a number of large church-owned lots that are used significantly for only a few hours a week. The rest of the time they sit there as heat islands, contribute to polluted stormwater runoff, and discourage pedestrian activity.
Thanks to Matthew for posting the link to the conversation in Jacksonville.