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What Else Could You Fit Downtown Instead of 93,000 Parking Spaces?

11:11 AM EDT on March 12, 2015

A parking space to scale with apartment floor plans, via 9x19.net
A parking space to scale with apartment floor plans, via 9x18.net
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In most American cities, parking lots are so ubiquitous and unremarkable, they mostly escape notice. But for Darin Givens, who lives in downtown Atlanta and writes at Network blog ATL Urbanist, they serve as a constant, inescapable presence.

He's been thinking about what all that space could do besides store cars. So he did the math. It's actually pretty incredible:

According to a parking assessment released last year from Central Atlanta Progress, there are over 93,000 parking spaces in Downtown Atlanta. I wondered what else might fit in the area taken up by those spaces, and it just so happens that a couple of recent graphics make it clear [This one from the Institute for Development Policy and the one pictured above].

Using these figures, here’s a list I’ve made of things that could fit inside 93,000 parking spaces:

  • 15,000 2-bedroom apartments, or…
  • 23,250 1-bedroom apartments, or…
  • 46,500 micro apartments, or…
  • 930,000 bicycle parking spaces, or…
  • 279,000 3-office cubicles

This is just an exercise in math and space. I don’t expect any huge level of reuse to happen with Downtown Atlanta’s parking any time soon, and of course some level of parking is always necessary.

But I do believe, just by eyeballing the deadness of the blocks filled with parking and from the way those decks and lots sit mostly empty for many hours of the day, that some level of reuse is warranted. It would certainly liven things up to have these spaces activated with human pursuits rather than empty cars (when they even have that).

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Bike League has a Storify recap of its National Forum on Women & Bicycling. And Streets.mn discusses what factors prevent small urban spaces from being redeveloped.

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