City signs contract for parking study

Map courtesy of the city of Paducah

Louisville-based Concepts21, PLLC will perform a five-week parking assessment for a 12-block area in downtown Paducah, including City Block at Second and Broadway, which is the proposed site of a boutique hotel, mixed use residential and commercial space, off-street parking and town square area. This map depicts the assessment area and its yellow line marks the general boundary of the downtown commercial area, while the solid red line marks the service area where the assessment will take place. The dashed red line shows the focus area, or the area within the immediate vicinity of the City Block project.

The city of Paducah is set to undergo a downtown parking assessment after signing a $6,000 proposal this week with a Louisville-based firm.

"We executed the contract (Wednesday) and it's a five-week assessment," said Katie Axt, downtown development specialist.

Concepts21, PLLC will perform an assessment of a 12-block area downtown that examines parking supply and demand associated with the proposed City Block project at Second and Broadway. These 12 blocks are defined as: Water Street-North; Fourth Street-South; Monroe and Jefferson streets-West; and Washington and Clark streets-East.

Recommendations will include immediate, near-term, medium and long-term considerations, according to the proposal. Axt also provided a map that shows the 12-block assessment area and its focus area, which is near City Block.

"It's looking at doing an assessment count on the public spots, as well as the on-street parking," she said. "We do counts and we assess parking needs based on a typical day. We understand that most people are not going to walk more than one to two to three blocks. It is unreasonable to expect that people would walk six blocks, so we are looking at the parking needs and parking improvements within a two- to three-block radius."

A typical day is defined as a weekday around 1 p.m.

It's part of the city's pre-development agreement with Louisville-based Weyland Ventures, which proposes to put a boutique hotel, mixed residential and commercial space, off-street parking and a town square area on the 3-acre city-owned lot. The lot has 214 spaces.

City Block project is one piece of a larger vision for Paducah's Tax Increment Finance district, but has drawn public concern from some residents about its location and impact on downtown parking, including a petition that's garnered hundreds of signatures.

"The goal of the parking assessment is to understand how do we use our existing parking infrastructure -- on-street parking, off-street parking -- better, because what we have downtown is we have a lot of parking lots," Axt said. "We have a lot of on-street parking, but one of the challenges is being able to connect people who come downtown with our available parking."

Through listening sessions, Axt explained the city hears "mobility is the biggest challenge" and signage, along with education about available parking, is an immediate thing the city can work to improve.

"We don't need a parking assessment to tell us that we need better signage or that we need accessible handicapped parking throughout downtown, not just a lot," she added. "In January, the city is going to be implementing those solutions."

The assessment will consider what tools could be applied to make parking, circulation and access to shops and restaurants easier for people who live downtown and for visitors. It will also examine long-term redevelopment scenarios for the coming years, as indicated by the proposal.

After it's completed, Axt said the city will look at the recommendations and consult with Weyland Ventures in terms of its development plan, which it's still working on.

"That's when we bring the two together to understand, if the City Block development goes forward, how do we need to address future parking needs?" she said. "What can be done now? What needs to be in the near-term and then what needs to be done long-term?"

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